“The Tenth Talented” v. “The Hundredth Talented”: W. E .B. Du Bois’s Two Versions on the Leadership of the African American Community in the 20th Century

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Abstract

Comparing two essays written by Du Bois at a great interval of time, “The Tenth Talented” (1903) and “The Hundredth Talented” or the “Guiding Hundredth” (1948), the author of this article intends to deal with Du Bois’s endeavor to cohere culturally and politically an answerable and duty-bound black leadership, and to acknowledge the different accents laid by the author of The Souls of Black Folk on culture and on politics. An accomplished essayist and journalist, a foremost militant for the cause of black emancipation, Du Bois strove to persuade both white and the black audience about the role of high culture, an idea which perfectly matched the towering ideals of Victorian culture, but ran counter to the rapid urbanization of America, and later on, to the times of the Great Depression. The utopian solving chosen by Du Bois in “The Hundredth Talented” mirrors the conflict between the political convictions of a great mind and American reality, as well as the winding course of intellectual ideas which brought black emancipation into life, only in the midst of the last century.

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American, British and Canadian Studies

The Journal of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

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