WEB DuBois, “Talented Tenth”





WEB DuBois, “Talented Tenth”

DuBois developed the term the “Talented Tenth” to refer to a class of leaders of African American descent during the early years of the 20th century. It originated amongst White Liberals in the north in the year 1896 who had a goal of establishing colleges for black people in the south with an aim of imparting skills and knowledge for Negro teachers and other elite members of society. The author used the term to describe the probability of a single black male in every ten men becoming a leader in their race. The text gives emphasis of the importance of education and enhancing manhood as a primary weapon for fighting against ignorance and poverty amongst the black race.

The black race endured mistreatment and segregation given that they lacked education and skills to fight off poverty, disease and ignorance, which held them to the bounds of slavery and segregation. The author notes that creating black leaders should not be limited to imparting skills and knowledge but rather should extend towards enhancing manly traits such as broad sympathy and intelligence. Such should be the basis of developing a higher education curriculum that is primarily targeted and intended for black people to become future leaders.

Education was important and highly effective in leading the black people from the bondages of discrimination, slavery and segregation given that “the educated and intelligent of the Negro people that have led and elevated the mass” (Du Bois 31). The lack of an education and intelligence were the primary impediments towards the black race realizing freedom and human treatment by the American society as bound by racial prejudice and slavery.  Continuing education was effective in enhancing social change given that it provided individuals such as the author with the much-needed enlightenment to advance freedom for the black race. From the text, we understand that education played an important role in providing the black community with the ability to develop its own leaders to push for social change across the country. They played an important role in providing the future generations, current society, with the opportunity to enjoy freedoms such as suffrage for black people, equal rights and basic freedoms that were experienced by the white community.

The text also makes note that the author was highly in favor of classical education for the black community in that it would enable them to optimize their potential as diligent members of the American society. Aristocracy and character are integral elements towards building a productive and respectable society. In this case, the author notes that aristocracy and character are essential for human progress. They are important towards elimination of ignorance and segregation by providing individuals with avenues for self-sustenance.

Strengthening a community that has long endured discrimination, segregation and been denied freedom. In addition, the author notes that not all individuals can afford the opportunity to attend colleges and other tertiary institutions of learning. However, the “talented tenth” must be sought and pushed towards leadership through education. From such it can be inferred that to bring social change, the talented and intelligent should be convinced to pursue education so as to bring changes to the society.

In addition, those with the ability and talent to successful engage in education can form an integral part of society. They can enable social change by leading those with inadequate or lacking an education. This is integral for enhancing development in our communities irrespective of race, culture or familial background.  Furthermore, it is also important to note that the educated, intelligent and those with character can provide effective leadership to those who are not afforded any opportunity of receiving skills and knowledge to bring about social changes in the modern world.




















Work Cited

W.E.B. Du Bois. “The Talented Tenth,” from The Negro Problem: A Series of Articles by Representative Negroes of To-day. New York, 1903.Print.



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