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Those About Him Remained Silent

Those About Him Remained Silent: The Battle over W. E. B. Du Bois

Amy Bass
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsmbv
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  • Book Info
    Those About Him Remained Silent
    Book Description:

    Amy Bass provides the first detailed account of the battle over W. E. B. Du Bois and his legacy, as well as a history of Du Bois’s early life in Massachusetts. Showing the potency of prevailing, often hidden, biases, Those About Him Remained Silent is an unexpected history of how racism, patriotism, and global politics played out in a New England community divided on how—or even if—to honor the memory of its greatest citizen.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7042-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION The Shadow of the Veil
    (pp. ix-xxiv)

    I did not know that I grew up approximately sixteen miles from W. E. B. Du Bois’s birthplace and childhood home until my second year of graduate school. This fact is remarkable to me, not because the majority of residents of the beautiful Berkshire Hills in Massachusetts have no idea that Du Bois was born in Great Barrington in 1868 but becauseIdid not know. Given that anyone who graduated from the public school systems of the Berkshires boasts a healthy knowledge of their famous surroundings, I thought there was little that I—the daughter of two noted local...

  4. CHAPTER ONE Du Bois in Great Barrington and Beyond
    (pp. 1-22)

    Summer 2004. The bright, colorful images that extend along the side of the Carr Hardware building on Railroad Street in Great Barrington end with an intricate image of a black left hand, raised high in a familiar stance of protest. The mural, designed and executed by the Railroad Street Youth Project, coordinated by then assistant director Anna Phelan, serves as yet another tribute to Great Barrington native son W. E. B. Du Bois. This resurrection of Du Bois in the town of his birth came on the heels of the centennial celebration of his most decisive work,The Souls of...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Evolution of a Progressive Mind
    (pp. 23-46)

    Du Bois’s version of the period in which he left Great Barrington for Nashville and Fisk gives an impression that it was his first immersion in black community and culture. For David Levering Lewis, this is both problematic and somewhat correct. “Even though he always minimized the role that Great Barrington’s African-American community had played in his growing up,” Lewis writes, “Willie’s knowledge of the larger world of black people—and especially of southern black people—was as indirect and negligible as he said it was.” Du Bois may have discovered “the Veil” within the racial workings of Great Barrington’s...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Her Proudest Contribution to History
    (pp. 47-82)

    Du Bois’s increasingly leftist leanings ensured that many people in Great Barrington, despite the poetics regarding his beloved boyhood home in each of his autobiographical writings, echoed the accusations and conclusions that essentially had been foregone for the folks at the State Department. These were the ones who opposed the emergent campaign to memorialize Du Bois’s years in Great Barrington shortly after his passing, and they included, particularly, members of the twelve local chapters of the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the John Birch Socicty, and chapters of various veterans’ groups in Great...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Where Willie Lived and Played
    (pp. 83-108)

    The Du Bois Memorial Committee forged on with its mission. With the land in hand, the committee flourished, if not in local popularity then with a membership that topped one hundred by the spring of 1968, and things began to swing into motion. The committee began its campaign by creating a program to donate books to the Mason Public Library in Great Barrington. The initiative was greeted with skepticism by theBerkshire Courier, which railed against the committee for taking donations intended for its “Communist memorial” and putting them toward filling local libraries with books on “Negro history and culture...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE A Prophet without Honor
    (pp. 109-136)

    Whether or not the Berkshires had come to accept Du Bois more willingly, the United States was moving out of its era of hysterical Cold War anticommunism, particularly as Americans’ beliefs regarding the conflict in Vietnam increasingly changed from somewhat blind patriotic support to skepticism and outright opposition. With 1968’ s Tet Offensive, a considerable turning point in terms of how Americans viewed what was happening in Southeast Asia, the war lost its broadly based national backing, prompting President Johnson to opt out of pursuing reelection. From the local perspective, it seemed that people became far less worried about framing...

  9. CHAPTER SIX An Uncertain Legacy
    (pp. 137-160)

    Walter Wilson died in 1991, just over a decade after his dream of having Du Bois’s birthplace get the national recognition that he felt it deserved became realized. The legacy of that dream since the Du Bois memorial park attained of official national landmark status has been chaotic at best; the citizens of Great Barrington—and Berkshire County at large—have continued to vacillate over their relationship with the famous and controversial native son.

    Without question, the battle over Du Bois began, visibly and vigorously, in the late 1960s, when people expressed their fury over a small ceremony furnished with...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 161-164)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 165-192)
  12. Index
    (pp. 193-198)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-199)
  14. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)