Du Bois, David G(raham) 1925-2005

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Du Bois, David G(raham) 1925-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 9, 1925, in Seattle, WA; died of emphysema January 28, 2005, in Northampton, MA. Journalist, educator, and author. The adopted son of noted African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, David Graham Du Bois was a former spokesman of the Black Panthers and later worked to preserve his adopted father's legacy. After his biological father died, Du Bois was raised largely by his grandparents, until his mother, an artist and writer, married W. E. B. Du Bois. Enrolling at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1942, Du Bois enlisted in the U.S. Army the following year and served during World War II. Returning to school, he completed a degree in sociology at Hunter College in 1950, followed by a master's degree in history from New York University in 1956. A year spent learning Chinese while in China was followed by an excursion to Egypt. In Egypt, Du Bois was impressed by how much he felt at home with the people there, so he decided to stay. He got a job as an editor and reporter for the Arab Observer in Cairo in 1960 and also lectured at Cairo University; he served as news editor for the Egyptian Gazette, and was a writer and radio announcer for Radio Cairo. Du Bois drew on some of his experiences in Egypt to write his novel And Bid Him Sing (1975). In 1972, he decided to return to the United States to teach at the University of California at Berkeley. Here, he joined the Black Panther Party and became editor-in-chief of its publication, The Black Panther, from 1973 until 1975. When his mother died in 1977, Du Bois took on the responsibilities of keeping his famous adopted father's legacy alive. To this end, he established the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation and began work on editing the Encyclopedia Americana: Dictionary of African Biography. The encyclopedia, the realization of his stepfather's dream to create a major reference work written and compiled by African-American scholars, was planned to be a twenty-volume work. However, only three volumes were published between 1977 and Du Bois's death in 2005. Like his mother and adopted father, Du Bois also became a citizen of Ghana, where he worked on organizing his adopted father's papers, which had been collected by the Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan-African Culture in Accra. In addition, he was a council member for the China-Du Bois Study Center in Beijing. Much of Du Bois's later life was spent at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was a professor of journalism and African-American studies from 1983 until his 2001 retirement.



Grand Rapids Press, February 4, 2005, p. B6.

Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2005, p. B11.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), February 4, 2005, p. 34.


University of Massachusetts Web site, http://www.umass.edu/loop/ (February 24, 2005).