Julius Lester

The Seventh Son: The Thought and Writings of W.E.B. DuBois, 1971. o.p.

From pp. 16-7

Du Bois exemplified the two-ness all his life. It made him appear contradictory, but no basic contradictions existed. During his Harvard years, he was responsible for the production of two plays at a local black church: Aristophanes' The Birds, and a burlesque of the Negro hair tonic business called Samason and Delilah, or the Dude, the Duck and the Devil. That one man could be intimately involved in two plays so different in style, content and purpose would be amazing beyond belief without an understanding of the "two-ness." He was black in America, in the Western world. He was as equally proud of his knowledge of Western culture as he was of being black. He did not reject the West, as did the nineteenth century black radical nationalists John Bruce and Bishop Henry M. Turner. To Du Bois blacks would always be considered inferior until they were conversant with, and could appreciate, Western culture.

At the same time, however, he believed in "voluntary race segregation," of a "Negro self-sufficient culture even in America." He rejected the notion of many of his black contemporaries who "saw salvation only in terms of integration at the earliest moment and on almost any terms in white culture." He sought the destruction of the concept of race which conferred inferiority on blacks and superiority on whites. In its place he wanted a culturally pluralistic society in which races were conserved and each race was in a position to make its unique contribution to society without any impediments.

Selected Works

Folk Tales
The Last Tales of Uncle Remus. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Out of print)
The last volume in the retellings of the Uncle Remus tales.
When the Beginning Began, illustrated by Emily Lisker, 1999. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
Traditional retellings and original stories around the creation story in Genesis
Long Journey Home, 1972 (Dial Books For Young Readers)
Short stories based on true stories from Black history.
This Strange New Feeling, 1982 (Scholastic Paperbacks)
Three love stories based on true stories from slavery.
Do Lord Remember Me, 1984
A novel inspired by my father's life
And All Our Wounds Forgiven, 1994.
A novel about the civil rights movement and suggested by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Othello: A Novel, 1995 (Point)
A novelization of the Shakespeare play.
Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel, 2000. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A story about the young Moses growing up in ancient Egypt.
When Dad Killed Mom, 2001. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A novel about what happens to a brother and sister when their father murders their mother.
The Autobiography of God, 2004, (St. Martin's Press)
A novel that probes the question why evil can exist if God is omnisicient, omnipresent, and All-Good.
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, 2005, (Hyperion Books)
A novel in dialogue about the largest slave auction in American history.
Time's Memory 2006 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A novel about an nyama (spirit) that comes to the United States on a slave ship.
Cupid: A Novel, (Harcourt, January, 2007)
A retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche.
Poetry and Photography
Lovesong:Becoming A Jew, 1988 (Bullfinch Press)
Story of my spiritual odyssey to Judaism.
On Writing for Children and Other People, 2005 (Dial Books)
A literary memoir discussing the relationship between my life and my writing
Picture Book
John Henry. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
The first picture book collaboration with Jerry Pinkney
Shining, Illustrations by John Clapp, 2003 (Harcourt Books)
A fable about what a young girl learns from silence.
Let's Talk About Race. Illustrated by Karen Barbour 2005 (Harper Collins/Amistad)
A book in which I talk personally about race and how to think about it. Wonderful illustrations by Karen Barbour.