Monday, April 29, 2013


Dr. Dubois of Harvard and Fisk
The tall young African docent at the W.E.B. Dubois museum in Accra didn’t hesitate at the end of the personal tour he’d given me alone when his colleagues had been ready to go home.  “What book of the famous man would he recommend me to read?  The Souls of Black Folk.”   One of the buildings we’d visited held the tomb of the eminent scholar who’d returned to the homeland of his ancestors to finish his work. 

The docent had let me in just at closing time.  I’d come down the block from my brother’s apartment compound, adjacent to the new largest securitized U.S. embassy in Africa, because it was something I didn’t want to miss. My brother Dan had spent two years in the embassy doing immigration work, and my trip there came at the end of his assignment.  We’d done well visiting jungle forest and fishing boat coast, my first time in central Africa.  But here right next door was this monument to a black man who’d superseded slavery’s history, and wrote bravely about it at the beginning of the 20th century.  That’s all I knew of Dubois then.  I’ve just finished the book, and the docent was right.

Partially bunkered U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana--one of our newest and biggest {next to Iraq's}
We the whites, now begin to know the black of ages better, as we feel their suffered indignation in the face of the new master the corporate person who tells the 99% rest what to do—beyond the new grey-flannelled suit they are men who command many guns and dollars and people worldwide.  What are we to do then, beloved community, those who believe s, dismantle the veils.
Uncertain of source, but collaborated by NYT obit in 1963
Dubois teaches all the races something of the Veil, the sequestering of peoples to maintain control and privilege.  He describes the South, having entered from the North, with pain outrage empathy—and lays the problem at the door of the whole country.  His approach is measure by measure as firm uplifting as the hymns of the black church that connect each chapter, and leads with tough love through his educated social analysis, and stories of his own encounters.

escribing the history of our racism accurately from a hundred years ago, he gives compass to many of our current troubles.   The truth, and underlying compassion, of his words give hope that we shall yet overcome, as the banner was taken up by Dr. King, the triple headed monster—poverty militarism racism.  Lord give us the grace to find the courage. Grant us more prophets, and the good sense not to banish or kill them.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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