Classical Tradition and Black Nationalism in W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Star of Ethiopia

  • Evan LeeEmail author

In 1926, as part of the ceremony awarding Carter G. Woodson the Spingarn Medal, W. E. B. Du Bois definitively declared ‘all Art is propaganda and ever must be’. The paradigm outlined in this speech, published in The Crisis later that year as ‘Criteria of Negro Art’, establishes the arts as crucial political tools that not only capture the attention of the audience, but also necessarily advance an ideological position.1 Du Bois’s historical pageant The Star of Ethiopia, which he wrote and produced during the 1910s, offered a spectacular outlet for his artistic and political vision: with elaborate sets and hundreds of performers, the pageant detailed the six ‘gifts’ that African and diasporic people gave the world. I argue that, in The Star of Ethiopia, Du Bois focuses on the history of ancient Africa as a means of laying the foundation for a fledgling black nationality. Egypt and Ethiopia thus play a role similar to the one assigned to ancient Greek and Roman culture in the formation...

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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