Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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W. E. B. Du Bois Character Analysis

W. E. B. Du Bois is a Black sociologist, university professor, and civil rights activist. Born into a free Black community in the American North during the years of Reconstruction, Du Bois received his secondary education first at Fisk, a Black college, and then Harvard University. He is a founding member of the NAACP where he edits the organization’s magazine, The Crisis. Thus, he is a colleague of James Weldon Johnson and Walter White. Du Bois and The Crisis spearhead a national anti-lynching campaign, publicizing the details of lynchings throughout the country during the early 20th century. Du Bois hopes that Black Americans will achieve equality and civil rights through integration into white society, and he sees this integration led by the achievements of the “talented tenth,” the most accomplished and gifted Black men and women in a generation. This ideology animates Ossian Sweet’s drive to succeed as a doctor and amass personal wealth. Throughout his trial and his subsequent celebrity, Ossian not only understands himself as a member of this Black elite, but Du Bois directly names him as an example in The Crisis’s coverage of the trials.

W. E. B. Du Bois Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by W. E. B. Du Bois or refer to W. E. B. Du Bois. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1 Quotes

It took him twelve more years to fulfill his parents’ instructions, a dozen long, hard years of schooling to master the material that would make him an educated man and earn the pride that was expected of the race’s best men, all the while working as a serving boy for white people […] Ossian never excelled, but he got an education, as fine an education as almost any man in America, colored or white, could claim. By age twenty-five, he had earned his bachelor of science degree […] and his medical degree from Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, the jewel in the crown of Negro colleges.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet, W. E. B. Du Bois
Page Number: 20-21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

While Du Bois pledged that Negroes would return from Europe ready to fight for equal rights, socialists A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen preached the power of armed resistance. “We are…urging Negroes and other oppressed groups confronted with lynching and mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense,” the pair wrote during the bloody summer of 1919. “Always regard your own life as more important than the life of the person about to take yours, and if a choice has to be made between the sacrifice of your life and the loss of the lyncher’s life, chose to preserve your own and to destroy that of the lynching mob.”

Related Characters: W. E. B. Du Bois, Ossian Sweet
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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W. E. B. Du Bois Character Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the character W. E. B. Du Bois appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Migration
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Wilberforce is not the best Black college: many educated Black elites, including W. E. B. Du Bois ,—who taught there for a year—consider it a backwater. But it offers a four-year preparatory... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...University, like other Black colleges and universities, was founded on ideas promulgated by men like W. E. B. Du Bois , who believed that the race will only advance on the efforts of “exceptional men... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...to shape its students with “racial politics.” In 1905, Scarborough becomes a charter member of W. E. B. Du Bois ’s Niagara Movement for racial equity. At this time,  integrationists face steep challenges. Scientists and... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...white support for Black political action. In 1909, shortly before Ossian arrives at Wilberforce, Scarborough, W. E. B. Du Bois , and other prominent Black and white activists form the National Association for the Advancement... (full context)
Chapter 4: Uplift Me, Pride
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...rights movement gains momentum. However, it’s increasingly divided between competing impulses for integration (spearheaded by W. E. B. Du Bois ) and Black nationalism. More and more activists preach the value of armed resistance. While... (full context)
Chapter 7: Freedmen, Sons of God, Americans
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...secretary, he interfaces between the primarily white board of directors and prominent Black members like W. E. B. Du Bois . (full context)
Chapter 8: The Prodigal Son
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...public face. She enjoys the attention. Ossian receives glowing praise from such Black luminaries as W. E. B. Du Bois , who elevates him as an example for the talented tenth while criticizing Alexander Turner’s... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...D.C. and 1921 Tulsa race riots, Southern lynchings, and analyses of restrictive covenants authored by W. E. B. Du Bois and Louis Marshall. For his part, Darrow pays scant attention to the niceties of the... (full context)
Epilogue: Requiescam
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...Side. James Weldon Johnson celebrates the promise of the now fully funded Legal Defense Fund; W. E. B. Du Bois lectures about the Harlem Renaissance’s upward trajectory; Walter White networks and promotes his newly-published second... (full context)