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Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 456–497 | Cite as

“The Sacred Unity in All the Diversity”: the Text and a Thematic Analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’ “The Individual and Social Conscience” (1905)

  • Robert W. Williams
  • W. E. B. Du Bois
Articles
  • 383 Downloads

Abstract

In mid-February 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois traveled to Boston to attend the Third Annual Convention of the Religious Education Association. He participated as a discussant for a general session that addressed the topic “How Can We Develop in the Individual a Social Conscience?” Published in the convention proceedings that year, Du Bois’ untitled contribution is seemingly unknown to later scholars who research his thought and activism. “The Individual and Social Conscience” (IASC), as his work may be titled, set forth a dialectic of human difference in which the self-development of a person’s social responsibility was crucial to grounding the idea of the basic equality of all. Du Bois utilized a method inspired by the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel but tempered it with the philosophical concerns of pragmatist and Africana intellectual traditions. In addition to the full text of the IASC by Du Bois, the essay presents an analysis of the IASC’s religious dimensions, its extension of themes from his earlier Souls of Black Folk, and its intellectual resonances with Africana, pragmatic, and Hegelian philosophies.

Keywords

W.E.B. Du Bois G.W.F. Hegel Africana philosophy Pragmatism The Souls of Black Folk 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance and insights of Rev. Boardman Kathan, who is the Archivist for the Religious Education Association as well as a General Secretary Emeritus of the organization. My colleague Jeffrey Mortimore deserves my deep thanks, both for his kind help as reference librarian of Holgate Library at Bennett College and for his thoughtful comments on my manuscript.

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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political ScienceBennett CollegeGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.AccraGhana

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