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DuBois' landmark book on blacks to be reprinted

February 18, 2009|Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — The Ku Klux Klan was rising again. Segregation was the law and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was not even born yet.

Amid the terror and oppression, civil rights pioneer W.E.B. DuBois published a groundbreaking book in 1924 that challenged the stereotypes of African Americans and documented their rarely recognized achievements.

His book, "The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America," detailed the role of African Americans in the invention of such things as ice cream and player pianos. He argued that blacks were crucial to conquering the wilderness, winning wars, expanding democracy and creating a prosperous economy.

"The Negro worked as farm hand and peasant proprietor, as laborer, artisan and inventor and as servant in the house, and without him, America as we know it, would have been impossible," DuBois wrote.

Now a new edition of the book is being published to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, which DuBois co-founded.

"African-Americans have served on the Supreme Court, in the cabinet, and, finally, as president of the United States," Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, wrote in a new introduction. " 'The Gift of Black Folk' allows us to fully appreciate these monumental achievements."

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