The Ideas and Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois

Georgetown University

Dr. Robert J. Patterson is a professor of African American Studies and served as the inaugural chair of the Department of African American Studies at Georgetown University (2016-2019). He is the author of Destructive Desires: Rhythm and Blues Culture and the Politics of Racial Equality (Rutgers University Press, 2019) and Exodus Politics: Civil Rights and Leadership in African American Literature and Culture (UVA Press, 2013), co-editor of The Psychic Hold of Slavery: Legacies in American Expressive Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2016), and editor of the forthcoming Black Cultural Production After Civil Rights (University of Illinois Press, Fall 2019). Currently, he is working on a book titled Black Equity, Black Equality: Reparation and Black Communities.

Dr. Patterson’s teaching interests and courses mirror his research projects and he has taught a range of courses that examine black cultural production, racial politics, and the legacies of slavery.

Dr. Patterson has worked with governmental agencies, school systems, and other organizations to develop solutions that increase diversity, cultivate inclusion, and provide equity of access and outcomes.


W.E.B. Du Bois earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895 and his research interests in race relations and black civil rights animated his entire career.  In 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk, which is a profound collection of essays that examines literature, music, politics, and public policy to analyze how race, racism, and racial animus made it difficult for black people to exercise the rights of citizenship and enjoy its responsibilities in the post-Emancipation era.  From his political differences with his contemporaries, including Booker T. Washington, to his introduction of ideas such as double-consciousness, the color-line, and the talented-tenth, W.E.B Du Bois has remained a central figure and interlocutor in African American Studies and other field of inquiry concerned with racial equality, black freedom, and civil rights.


This course explores the big ideas, concepts, and political propositions that Du Bois has offered, and considers their (and his) continued significance and influence American society.  The course showcases how Du Bois revised—and, in some instances—renounced some of his previously held ideas as the circumstances and contexts in which he thought, wrote, and lived changed.



3 reviews
5 stars
100 %
4 stars
0 %
3 stars
0 %
2 stars
0 %
1 star
0 %
Harriet Novet

Superb lecture

Applying the life history, philosophy and progression of a 20th century icon to historical events and his contemporaries provide an overlay to America’s racial issues. This talk sharpened the focus on early thought leaders of the Movement while contrasting the current Black experience in America. Thank you Professor and One Day U!

1 year ago
Juanita Sevilla

The Ideas and Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois

Thank you for this excellent and informative presentation. There is so much that has never been made readily available as part of our history in this country that I am so pleased to learn it now. I hope there’ll be more lectures by Dr. Patterson and others that so clearly tell what really has made America the country we are today. I may be late to learn these things but so appreciate that I can now.

1 year ago
barbara ann.fields

Knowledge is Power

Thank you. The information that you imparted should be shared with School Districts to show the need for Black History being taught in schools, not only in the south but throughout the States.
Knowledge is Power. The more we ALL know the sooner things can begin to change.

1 year ago
Scroll to Top