Celebrated civil rights activist, scholar, and Pan-Africanist Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois (pictured) and his dedication to racial equality for African Americans marks him as one of Black America’s most-visible and treasured icons. Graduating from famed Harvard University and becoming the first African-American to earn a doctorate, Dr. Du Bois would later become one of the co-founders of the NAACP. Although he did not experience racism on the same level as many others as a child in Massachusetts, Dr. Du Bois still had an unyielding devotion to the elevation of Black people.
Active well in to his 90s, Dr. Du Bois and his wife, Shirley, traveled to Nigeria to witness the inauguration of the country’s first governor, Nnamdi Azikiwe. Du Bois’ time in Africa was capped with a visit to Ghana in 1961, where he was commissioned to oversee the Encyclopedia Africanaproject. In early 1963, the United States would not renew Du Bois’ passport and he became an expatriate along with his wife after becoming a citizen of Ghana. Unfortunately, Dr. Du Bois’ health declined dramatically during his two years in Ghana, and he would die on this day at the age of 95 in the town of Accra.
A day after his death at the historic “March On Washington,” Du Bois was honored with a moment of silence after being prompted by speaker Roy Wilkins. A year after his death, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted and included several measures and reforms that Dr. Du Bois staunchly advocated. In Accra, Ghana, Dr. Du Bois’ home is now known as the Du Bois Memorial Centre (see his grave in Ghana pictured below).