tv W.E.B. Du Bois Anna Julia Cooper CSPAN April 3, 2021 9:14am-9:50am EDT
feels like enslavement itself is not bad enough to warrant the sort of violent pushback see in these films are they had to be a personal breaking point or last straw for the main characters. >> learn more today at 6:00 p.m. eastern, 3:00 p.m. pacific here on american history tv. >> if you like american history tv, keep up during the week on facebook, twitter and youtube. see preview clips of upcoming programs. follow us at c-span history. >> kristin marsh discusses the contributions of civil rights activists w.e.b. du bois and anna julie cooper, which she says were often marginalized.
however, recently, they have been looked to for insights into the history of race relations in the united states. this talk is part of the great lives lecture series presented by the university of mary washington which provided the video. >> dr. marsh is the chair of the department of sociology at the university of mary washington where she has taught for 20 years. she teaches courses in a ride -- wide range of areas. -- a wide range of areas. central concerns include a focus on the ways that race and class, gender and other categories of
inequality are structured to reproduce through social institutions. in light of her background, i can think of no one better qualified to speak on this subject so it is a great pleasure to introduce dr. kristin marsh. dr. marsh: hello. i went to thank bill crawley for inviting me this year. it is a real opportunity for the faculty to get to share some interests. also, thank you to herschel her attorneys for sponsoring my actor. i teach in the sociology program at mary washington and also in women's and gender studies. my talk today is on w.e.b. du bois and anna julie cooper, the
politics of race and gender and the historical record of u.s. intellectual thought. both were scholars and educators and public intellectuals and social activists during the late 1800s and through that mid 20th century. in multiple capacities, they each worked publicly with great influence for racial justice and against interpersonal oppression and domination. this oppression and domination persisted throughout reconstruction, but escalated in the aftermath under jim crow segregation. i have chosen and was glad to consider these intellectual forces together although it is a lot for one talk. they both could take a week on their own.
they shared that historical context. cooper's life spanned over a century, and w.e.b. du bois lived from 1868 to 1863, from slavery to emancipation, from reconstruction to jim crow segregation, this is not just the backed up to their work and activism. it is the contested terrain that was the work and did present their lives, and secondly, they share a standpoint of race consciousness. they wrote of the african-american experience and identity, and anna julie cooper wrote forcefully of the double marginalization of black women in the of the special irony for black feminist women as they found no place within the quite women's movement.
the other contributions in the activists circles could not incorporate their unique experiences of oppression. this standpoint meant that they were working from the margins, both cooper and w.e.b. du bois addressed whites directly, understanding as w.e.b. du bois put it in the souls of white folk participating from the margins forced blacks to heighten observational skills and have a clarity of vision. likewise, cooper writes of a open eyed stance, with eyes wide open, lack women are perceptive, and she is describing a clarity of understanding. whites, on the other hand, have the luxury of normalizing, and thereby denying that race
structured their world and shape their identity. as w.e.b. du bois puts it, whites have no race consciousness. they write with a particular voice that is subjective, but this is within a strict and careful understanding of their audience. although they follow different clear paths, cooper and w.e.b. du bois worked on the same side of policy debates. there activism was located in, circles and in some of the same organizations, and their theories on race had a striking compatibility. moreover, they were both early contributors to the penn africanist movement -- pan
africanist movement. i teach the history of social theory, covering broadly the late 1700s to the mid-1930's. sociology in the u.s. is a discipline. karl marx, emile durkheim, max weber, we do not leave it there, but we are socializes into the discipline to emphasize early european sociologists, intellectuals who were brought up in different traditions from one another, and they worked to establish social scientific methods and insight to distinguish sociology from
philosophy and psychology in particular. universities in the u.s. lagged european universities in institutionalizing socialization as a subject of study. this is all being debunked now any the scholarship, particularly with the work of eldon morris on w.e.b. du bois. what i noticed right away when searching for texts for my course was the regularity of themes and people who are included as the father's of sociology. my own college there e-book might as well have been the bible, and this is it pictured here although this is the second edition. my first edition is in such
tattered condition, i cannot share a picture. this was really the bible, masters of sociological thought. since then, although there are text available, usually they include one white woman and one black man. that is today. it was a long time coming. in contemporary theory books there is a broader range of inclusion, but we still think of that canon in a particular way. i was lucky i came to sociology to discover and benefit from the work of people like mary jo deacon who made a case for the very existence of early women founders in sociology and i rely heavily on a text by patricia linger men, a popular one among my students.
there are now classic texts that bring early sociologists into the history of sociology. in the last few years, i have been better equipped to design a classroom experience to experience a core knowledge. i do not take it far enough, but it is a start, and we disrupt the origin story that have come -- had come to take as a fact of history. what i find interesting about this is that i read a very similar story over and over in various sources that i have come to rely on to help me disrupt my assumptions. everyone tells about the story, how did i miss these people, how was i misled?
i propose to share with you the concept of standpoint of intersectionality or of the matrix of god -- domination, central to women's and gender studies. we tend to think of intersectionality as a concept that was coined by tkibuli crenshaw -- kimberly crenshaw. what we often fail to acknowledge is that these critical insights are the legacy of cooper and dubois. the fact that we were not ready to hear this at the time they were writing might give us insight as to why critical race theory is so necessary today. i propose to share with you some
of the themes in their writing. i will say a little about about their biographies, but this overview is brief, embarrassingly brief, but maybe you will be inspired to read more of their work. i mentioned the secondary sources that i rely on. these are central. the top one, alden morris, a 2014 contribution to the history of sociology that brings dubois right into the canon and argues that du bois was the first scientific sociologists to
establish a school of sociology in the united states first. secondly, i mentioned the book on that women founders and i recommend it. also, in a julia cooper, this is -- anna julie cooper, this adds to the voice from the south, and the 2020 w.e.b. du bois rationalized modernity and the mobile color line. there's much more as well. anna julie cooper was born anna julie hayworth in north carolina, and she was born into slavery. she lived long enough to see the first stages of mast face political protest movement.
her social theory developed through this context, especially reconstruction and the abandonment is major life events affecting her experience and therefore her activism and theory. she was acutely aware of the impact that sexism had on her educational opportunities. she was fiercely intellectual and religious. a rare opportunity, cooper attended saint augustine normal school and collegiate institute in raleigh. people were neither afforded, nor allowed into some of the classes reserved for men. she managed to convince the school to let her take greek, but she noted the sexism in that initial exclusion. she married george cooper and he died two leaders -- two years
later and she never remarried. cooper went on to study at overland college, still known for their early commitment to educational accidents -- access for african-americans. she had little means and sought interest into the b.a. program rather than the teaching program. in her 60's, cooper returned to her studies to study at the c ervoin. her central life activity was as an educator and she worked to ensure opportunities for blacks in america. she held various teaching posts. later she would teach at a university providing free education for poor blacks in
d.c. but her activities were much more extensive. she belonged to multiple civil rights organizations and led an active political life. her most famous writings are a collection of speeches and letters comprising a voice from the south, first published in 1892. this was early in her career and she continued to write extensively and on a broad range of subjects well into the 1950's. a selection of these are published, and while much of her work was dedicated to educational opportunities, i would like to emphasize here her writings on the double oppression of women of color. cooper wrote at the intersection of race, gender, class and
nation, and there is debate on this, but there is contention that her comp two tuitions are far-reaching and radical because of the report -- responsibility she puts on the reader to come to their own conclusions in the context of complex social issues. she was a linguist and so her writing was complex and sophisticated. i will just share some of the quotes from "a voice from the south" to give an example of her perspective. there is one example where she describes the experience of a black woman on a segregated train as being, where am i supposed to be? she is setting up this
understanding as was common at the time of women being held on a pedestal yet black women are not included. where is the gentlewoman supposed to be on the train, and then also at the depot, she says when the train stops at a station, looking more closely, i see two dingy rooms, one with four ladies in it and one with four colored people on the other , and in addition she talks about the differences among women. this is the foreshadowing of the intersectional perspective where we cannot just take experiences as a woman and in verse lies it -- universalize it.
she says, speaking to white women, the white american woman is responsible for american manners, but with all of her independence, the white american woman today is fearful of losing caste. she is saying you pretend to be aggressive at time, and at times you are, and then in the next moment, you are protecting privilege. she also foreshadows contemporary feminism's to fight oppression. we work hard to consider the feminist movement, and we have to work diligently to maintain this emphasis on all oppression.
she says when race, color, sex condition are realized to be the accidents of life, and consequently not modifying the innate of title to life, liberally, liberty, then the legacy is taught and the cause is won, not the white woman, nor the lack woman, but the cause of every man or woman, with -- this is that foreshadowing of intersectionality, her position as a black woman to be able to have this clarity of vision. this was from "a voice from the south."
finally, her very of human nature and social change, cooper believed in the ability of individuals to make change. she believed in human agency, in the potential good in humans, and she says progressive peace in the nation is the result of conflict, and conflict is produced to the coexistence of radically opposing a radically different elements. she is a conflict theorist who knows that by undermining domination, we are not going to necessarily come to long-lasting peace and common interest, but that without domination and undo power inequities, we can have differences of interest and some
conflict and have one group not oppress another. she is working against domination and toward equilibrium among the races. on to w.e.b. du bois and then will come back and talk about them both later. william edward du bois grew up in western massachusetts. although he had his sights set on harvard at a young age, he was pulled out of that aspiration and convinced to attend a predominate lately -- predominantly lack anniversary in tennessee. -- black university in tennessee. he writes of a particularly painful realization when as a
child, a new white student at the school refused his trading card. his experience at this must have impacted his views on negro education. among all else, that he was, historian, sociologist, civil rights leader, he was also a committed educator. after fisk, he spent two years in berlin. he writes in various places of the impact of experiencing such different racialized context, particularly he distinguishes living and working in eight racialized america from the freedom of adventures and at europe where he says he was meeting "not white folks, but folks." he continues, i found myself standing out against the world is simply against american color
prejudice. upon his return to the u.s., he took a job at the university, but he was offered a job in philadelphia soon after and he and his wife conducted a survey which became the philadelphia negro. when he was at wilberforce university, he asked to teach a sociology course and was refused. so he left. then he accepted a position at atlantic university in sociology he studied the education and occupation of southern blacks. in other words, this school is one that centers race in the analysis rather than classes. he stated -- estate at atlanta for 13 years and then became
president of the naacp. he has a list of publications that is extensive. it is overwhelming. perhaps he is best known for the philadelphia net grow, more likely "the souls of black folk." he has a changing voice over time, first taking a detached and scientific stance in "the philadelphia negro." then his tone gets increasingly subjective. in "dark water" he minces no words and is passionate and finally speaking truth to power. it was not well received.
in "the souls of black folk" he writes about double consciousness. he writes "it is a particular sensation, this sense of always looking at oneself to the eyes of others and measuring the soul by the tape of a world that looks on in pity." one ever feels his two-ness, two ideals in one dark body whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. " he continues, he wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a negro and in america without being spit upon by his fellows or having the doors of
opportunity closed in his face, so you can hear the subjectivity and the personal stance that comes through. in of white folk which he positioned at the margins can understand clearly. i am singularly clairvoyant of them, i can see through them. i view them from unusual points of vantage, not as a foreigner, but as a native nicd souls from the back and side and see the working of entrails paid i know their thoughts and they know i know. this knowledge makes them embarrassed and now furious. so he wrote autobiographical he throughout much of this writing,
sometimes to rhetorical effect as here, such as in the souls of black folk, but often more explicitly about his own life. but he makes clear and is represented in his voice is that he became increasingly disillusioned with the project of educating americans on the problems facing blacks whether in the north or throughout the south. he had set out to establish the scientific study of conditions facing blacks and he made the case objectively that it was lack of opportunities in education and occupations combined with interpersonal racism that kept blacks from progressing. the negro problem that he was hired to study is not an group
problem at all paid it is a problem of oppression. this was a tough battle. it scientific racism was predominant in the country and in the social sciences. white academics had an interest to maintain the status quo. he writes of being frustrated with the battle that faced him as a marginalized academic. having achieved high accolades in his early education, at atlanta he had to construct his research agenda with little funds especially in comparison with the northern white elite universities. i'm going to move on to some similarities that i see in w.e.b. du bois and cooper.
one is that they both were vocal critics of booker t. washington. they both firmly believed that blacks should have access to liberal education. the position on this point is the developed in black reconstruction in america and other writings where it is argued that this bureau was a necessary factor to establish public education paid his central point regarding liberal education is that it is necessary to educate the educators. he does not argue against industrial education, which it is implied he does, and when he addresses washington directly, but he is not arguing against it, rather he is arguing occasional education cannot
succeed without providing the training of broadly cultured men and women to teach teachers of the public schools. cooper takes part in this debate as well, but she has a later statement on education where she argues for the role of education in shaping moral uplift and also makes a case for education of domestic workers. her point is contextualized in the fact of limited opportunities for black women in the 1930's. they could work in agriculture or they could be mastic servants and increasingly black women or hide as domestic service and moved out of agriculture. education for women, cooper argued could would bolster self-respect and facilitate better conditions and pay for
domestics. there is much else to talk about in the research, but i will just highlight one more similarity. they both understood well the connection between race and colonialism in modern society. w.e.b. du bois identified as a marxist and argued that marxism did not incorporate race enough and he was a member of the communist party of america, but cooper was not a marxist. they both understood the forced migration of slaves to america was part of a larger system of oppression, and this understanding found expression in their involvement in the pan-african movement.
finally, i would be remiss to ignore some of the controversy surrounding their work. i would just mention some of this, perhaps this is somewhat vulnerable to claims of elitism. the concept of the talented 10th does seem to privilege elite lacks as potential leaders with unique rights to higher education. the term talented might bake a question of elitism as it suggests that those positioned to take advantage of higher liberal education are those most worthy of those opportunities. he is not explicitly recognizing that those in a better class position among blacks are those with opportunities. on the other hand, his central argument is about the requirement of providing the kind of education that will facilitate the shaping of
morality in a civic minded leadership for the black community. this is both of their points. in reading cooper, it is relatively easy to dismiss her cultural feminism as accommodating privileged white women feminism, but there is one argument that this is her brilliance and strategy. cooper borrows the dominant feminist language of the day, the argument of cultural feminism, we must provide educational opportunities and suffrage to women because they are the moral center of the home and society. women are chaste and moral above men. it is hard to argue that women are better than men by nature. that is not a predominant philosophy today, at least not with a straight face. it was a strategic argument at
the time so what may argues is this is what her set up is because when considering the black poor women of the south, this trope of womanhood as unmasked is a lie. you set up this logic, and then you deny it to black women, that is the problem. whether or not we as readers share in these critiques of this work, the import of the work is clear. the theory is complex and rounded. if there is to be a canon in the social sciences, w.e.b. du bois and anna julie cooper clearly to be -- clearly deserved to be included. >> exploring the american story, since 2011, we have been to more than 200 communitiescr