The reaction of W.E.B. DuBois to European colonialism, 1900-1950

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

During the first fifty years of the twentieth century, W. E. B. DuBois was the most influential Afro-American to advocate the end of European colonialism and self-determination for the colonial people. The writings against colonialism fall into four basic areas: the factors that produced colonialism; the culture that tolerated it; the comparison and contrast of the two basic colonial systems; and suggestions about how to end colonialism.

DuBois found economics to be the cause of colonialism and the European culture that tolerated the economic exploitation and political domination of the colonial people did so because it was a racist culture. Both colonial systems were deplorable despite the apparently more humane attitudes of the French. DuBois believed that a three-step program of economic emancipation, education and political autonomy was the only way to successfully end colonialism. For the first fifty years of the twentieth century his thoughts on colonialism were to remain virtually unchanged.