SPACExRACE

An exploration of the physical frontiers that define race in America

Acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington

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WEB Du Bois

Portrait of WEB Du Bois
(Photo Credit: National Portrait Gallery via PD-Art)

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963, the event that spurred Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It is widely considered to be one of the largest human rights demonstrations in U.S. history, and is seen as an important precursor to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The anniversary will be¬†commemorated in many ways over the course of the year, and much of the remembrance will dwell on Dr. King’s poignant speech at the event (and rightfully so). In a recent op-ed for Al Jazeera, however, UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Professor Keith Feldman used the lens of the March on Washington’s anniversary to examine the legacy of another legend of the civil rights movement: WEB Du Bois.

“All of WEB Du Bois’ extraordinary life’s work makes for as profound a reading experience today as it must have in 1963,” wrote Feldman. “In the last decade, nearly one thousand books, theses, and dissertations have taken up Du Bois in one way or another…why does Du Bois matter so much today?”

Feldman points to Du Bois’ prolific works and prescient theories on race as key components of his relevance in today’s work on race theory. As someone who has studied Du Bois’ work only fleetingly, one particular quote of his seems to stand out to me: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.”

This, in many ways, cuts to the very core of the relationship between race and space, even in today’s twenty-first century world. So Feldman is absolutely right here – Du Bois and his theories are certainly still relevant in today’s race theory landscape.

So at this point you have to be thinking, “Gee…if Feldman is so knowledgeable in the space and teaches at UC Berkeley, and Nish goes to UC Berkeley, then why doesn’t he just…” Well, I am one step ahead of you, dear reader. I will be interviewing Professor Feldman on Tuesday, March 5, to hear his thoughts on the relationship between race and space, modern-day race theory, and drone warfare. That’s right, drone warfare! Stay tuned.

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