90% of blacks in the United States live in the south by 1900, so it can be said that the problem of black Americans until 1900 is mainly a south issue. For the American whites, the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century were the gilded and progressive periods in the history of the United States, but they were a period of regression period for the black-and-white racial relations. After the civil war, the blacks are still very poor, 3/4 of black people in southern rural areas do not own land, they have to experience the double exploitation by farmers and financial capitalists. Coupled with the drop in farm product prices and natural disasters in the late nineteenth century, many black peasants were heavily indebted and displaced. Urban blacks were also hated and excluded from the employment of white workers and unions.
Politically, the campaign of depriving the blacks in southern states was set off from 1890 to 1910. The political rights of blacks were eliminated. The blacks do not have equal access to education. The illiteracy rate among blacks was still up to 60% in1890. In society, black people are subjected to apartheid in public places, such as hotels, theaters, schools, hospitals, cinemas, stadiums, railway stations and other public places, and often subjected to wanton beatings and lynchings by whites. Culturally, blacks are vilified as “beasts” and “devils.” According to Woodward(1971), the black writer Charles Chestnut commented in 1903: “During their 35 years of freedom, the rights of the black people have reached a low point and racial prejudices have become more intense and uncompromising.”. This undoubtedly contributed an excellent portrayal of the state of black and white race relations in the United States.
Based on this social reality, Dubois formed a basic understanding of the issue of the participatory inequality. He believes that theproblem in the United States is caused by the white racial bias and the black man economically and culturally lags behind the white man. Therefore, it is necessary to change the attitude and resolution of white people toward black people through investigation, research and publicity, improve the black people’s own image to tackle it.
The Great Economic Crisis in 1929-1933 undoubtedly aggravate the economic problems of blacks who has been in the lowest level of the economic world. The problem of economy is the issue of living. According to statistics, by the end of 1932, one third of urban blacks were unemployed and another one-third were unemployed partly. The black people became redundant and were always “the last to be hired, the first to be dismissed.” Unemployed blacks could not afford to live by themselves and could only rely on relief. In 1933, blacks receiving relief accounted for 23.9% of the total receiving aid in New York City. 27.6% in Detroit, 34% in Chicago and Philadelphia, and 67% in Akron, Ohio. This shows that the Great Crisis poses a serious threat to the lives of the black people. In this context, Dubois realized that: “The main weakness of black status is the failure to establish a sufficient economic base since liberation. (3) The main problem the blacks now faces is the economic issue, that is, how to improve the economic status and standard of living of the black people. The escalation of the conflict between black and white after World War I further prompted him to ponder the question of why, in such a prosperous world, the ghost of hunger often leads people toward hatred and massacre. Dubois (1969) wrote that that the root of the problem is the result of private ownership, the unequal distribution of social wealth and disparity between the rich and the poor, the problem could only be solved by distributing the products according to the needs of the people rather than the monopoly power of raw materials and tools by the capitalists .This is the “great and real revolution” in the future industry.
Since the 1930s, Dubois has accepted Marx’s view that economic fundamentals determine the construction above. In his biography, he wrote: “I used to think and I still think that Karl Marx was one of the greatest characters in modern history. Stickoff (1981) wrote that when Dubois said that the economic foundation – the way people make a living – is the development of civilization, literature and religion as well as the decisive factor of the basic cultural model, he pointed out exactly where our problems lie. This theory of Marx profoundly affected Dubois’s understanding of the issue of black Americans. He realized more clearly that economic discrimination is the most important aspect of the black issue and should serve as a breakthrough point in solving the problem of black Americans. He made it clear that political rights and political forces must be based on economic quantities. Only when blacks have economic power can racial barriers be completely destroyed. Therefore, on the premise of not giving up propaganda and promotion of civil and political rights, the black people must launch an “economic war” to win their right to work and the right to subsistence, improve the economic conditions of the blacks and enhance the economic strength of the them. This shows that Dubois’s understanding of the race issue is more deepened and more realistic. The crisis of capitalist economy in 1929-1933 further highlighted the shortcomings of the capitalist system and completely shattered Dubois’s confidence in the capitalist system. After the crisis broke out, he wrote that the New York stock market crash plunged “the fundamental weakness of our system” and “shaken Americans’ confidence in U.S. industrial organizations and private capitalist enterprises.” In response to President Hoover’s argument that “the economic crisis is temporary,” he pointed out that the root cause of the Great Crisis lies in the “irrational and inhuman characteristics” of capitalism in that it lacks a plan for its economic life and aims at making private profits. This has created the paradox of capitalism: Today, as human beings are increasingly exploiting and utilizing resources, and their production and technology are increasingly developed, many people do not have adequate food and clothing and do not have their houses. In view of this situation, Dubois said that it is essential to fundamentally reform the economic system of the United States, to completely reform the capitalist industrial organization in the United States, to eliminate the monopoly of chaebol on industry, to eliminate private profits and to make the labor of the vast majority of workers get fair compensation .
- E.B. Du BOIS,(1969) Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil. New York press. P99
Harvard Sitkoff, (1981) A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue
C.Vann Woodward,(1971) Origins of the New South. 1877-1913, p355