Dusk of Dawn


Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept is a 1940 autobiographical text by W. E. B. Du Bois that examines Du Bois's life and family history in the context of contemporaneous developments in race relations. Preceded decades prior by the better-known The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Dusk of Dawn focuses on Du Bois's relationship with Booker T. Washington, his reasons for leaving the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and a new concept of race. In contrast to Washington's Up From Slavery, a blend of slave narrative and autobiography, Dusk of Dawn traces the genealogy of the race concept as it affected Du Bois's life. Du Bois elucidates his theoretical writing with personal experiences, and connects those experiences to the larger historical and social phenomena he identifies as central to the function and development of race in the United States. Reviewing the book in 1940, Metz P. Lochard, editor of the Chicago Defender, said "[i]t is no mere autobiography in the conventional sense... [Du Bois] very adroitly utilizes his life experience as an axis from which he surveys the whole panorama of American civilization with its vice and virtue, its prejudice and philanthropy, its consistency and grace; and above all with its contradictory and conflicting interpretations of race, Christianity and [d]emocracy."Du Bois described the concept saying: This was the race concept which has dominated my life, and the history of which I have attempted to make the leading theme of this book. It had as I have tried to show all sorts of illogical trends and irreconcilable tendencies. Perhaps it is wrong to speak of it at all as "a concept" rather than as a group of contradictory forces, facts and tendencies. At any rate I hope I have made its meaning to me clear.
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