Herein lie buried many things which if read with patiencemay show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of theTwentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader;for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line. Ipray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words withme, forgiving mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion that is inme, and seeking the grain of truth hidden there.
I have sought here to sketch, in vague, uncertainoutline, the spiritual world in which ten thousand thousand Americans live andstrive. First, in two chapters I have tried to show what Emancipation meant tothem, and what was its aftermath. In a third chapter I have pointed out theslow rise of personal leadership, and criticized candidly the leader who bearsthe chief burden of his race to-day. Then, in two other chapters I havesketched in swift outline the two worlds within and without the Veil, and thushave come to the central problem of training men for life. Venturing now intodeeper detail, I have in two chapters studied the struggles of the massedmillions of the black peasantry, and in another have sought to make clear thepresent relations of the sons of master and man. Leaving, then, the whiteworld, I have stepped within the Veil, raising it that you may view faintly itsdeeper recesses, -- the meaning of its religion, the passion of its humansorrow, and the struggle of its greater souls. All this I have ended with atale twice told but seldom written, and a chapter of song.
Some of these thoughts of mine have seen the light beforein other guise. For kindly consenting to their republication
here, in altered and extended form, I must thank the publishers of theAtlantic Monthly, The World's Work, The Dial, The NewWorld, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and SocialScience. Before each chapter, as now printed, stands a bar of the SorrowSongs, -- some echo of haunting melody from the only American music whichwelled up from black souls in the dark past. And, finally, need I add that Iwho speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that livewithin the Veil?
W.E.B Du B.
ATLANTA, GA., FEB. 1, 1903.
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