W.E.B. Du Bois: Essay-Review of the David Levering Lewis biography, 1868-1963 - portions of this piece are excerpted from «Umpteen Essays in Search of a Novel: Countée, 1983-2023»
If the legacy of Du Bois's long life was unclear when he died in 1963, what can it all mean now? What possessed him to renounce the widely coveted citizenship for which those gathered there that day--inspired in part by his example--were marching? What can a scholarly biography of the patron saint of African-American intellectuals--written by tenured professor David Leveing Lewis for a prestigious publishing house, impatiently awaited by specialists and educated generalists alike--what can all this mean to 101 million eligible nonvoters "entirely ignorant of my work and quite indifferent to it," as Du Bois said in his time, much less to 30 million African-Americans beyond the Talented Tenth and those few old-timers in Harlem who remember Du Bois as being, mostly, a remarkably crotchety old man?