According to Kevern Verney

According to Kevern Verney, the civil rights act of the 1950s and 1960s were not down to King, but down to the culmination of the African American community. This is further supported by Carson who believes that ‘Black students would have probably still rebelled’ even if Martin Luther King had not been involved. This critical view of King, emphasises the role of the federal government and less celebrated leading figures who affected the movement over the century. This suggests that even though Martin Luther King played the face of the Civil rights movement, he did not play a significant role in influencing the majority. Understanding that Martin Luther King may have only played a superficial role in the forwarding of Civil Rights allows one to be retrospective and turn to other activists such as Rosa Parks who became a global symbol of resistance. Carson further argues that it was inconceivable that the Jim Crow laws would not be resisted. This is understandable as the civil rights movement had been longer than Martin Luther King and the leaders prior to him became the resistance. Clayborne Carson, a leading historian believes that W.E.B DuBois is a central figure african american history and that ‘all subsequent scholarship about African Americans can be seen as a footnote about what Dubois has already said’. Similarly to King, DuBois was an incredible orator. His legacy is so powerful, that he is spoken about with pride, over a century later; he marked the turning point of revolution. His life allows one to look at so many central themes of the civil rights movement. DuBois role in the NAACP and The Crisis played a significant part in the advancement of African American civil rights. However, his work prior to this in 1907 with the Niagara Movement outstandingly developed his position and the way in which he constructed the future of the African American community.
The publication of his poem ‘The Song of the Smoke’ 1907, in his monthly publication ‘The Horizon: A journey of the colour line’ was written because African American people were ‘regarded as an inferior creation’. Darwin T. Turner suggested that DuBois used literature to enforcee his ‘social, political and economic ideas’, which is shown through the poem. DuBois argued for the oppressed community and their struggles while being persecuted by the caucasian population and conveys the extent of their difficulties through the figurative connotations and symbolisation far greater than the literal meaning. The embodiment of the difficulties the African Americans faced throughout history is depicted in such lines as ‘Shedding the blood of bloodless crimes’ showing how bitter and angry the black community. This tone created an aura of sympathy for black people due to the extent of their suffering. Furthermore, the use of ‘smoke’ allows one to understand that Du Bois is suggesting that the African American population have a great presence, like smoke they don’t cause commotion and are not there to tear down society. Through his poem, W.E.B Du Bois was enforcing the fears of the entire black community. This is further supported by David Levering Lewis who wrote ‘W.E.B. DuBois: Biography of a race’, this title shows that Dubois did more than just stand up for African American civil rights, but moulded the future, to such an extent that he is still considered the father of the civil rights movement, over a century later. The Song of the Smoke is a highly useful source as it framed African American culture and forced the Caucasian population to understand what the civil rights movement was about in a completely different way to what had been done previously.
This was published in the primary outlet for the Niagara Movement he founded in 1905. Through the movement, Du Bois hoped to change the way the African American people had been told to accept their second-class status as instructed by Booker T. Washington. Due to its powerful and unambiguous demand for rights, this movement was completely unique. Members demanded for equal economic and educational opportunities and they sent a powerful message across the country; they wanted an end of segregation. The Plessy vs Ferguson case of 1896 marked the beginning Jim Crow era, where African Americans were given the same public services, however, they were separated and the African American facilities were always of a much lower standard. By 1906 the group had grown to 170 members and met annually until 1908, the year of the Springfield race riot, which caused the death of eight African Americans. This was a major turning point for the the civil rights movement because it was a symbol of revolution; the first northern race riot in four decades in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln. Both black and white activists believed it was time for a stronger interracial organisation to combat racism; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Through his articles, ‘The Song of the Smoke’, and his movements, W.E.B created a community, allowing all to stand up for their rights; Martin Luther King was the face of the Civil Rights movement, but W.E.B Du Bois was a mediator, allowing an entire community to work together, causing the increase of grassroot activism.

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