Civil rights leader and author, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. He earned a B.A. from both Harvard and Fisk universities, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard, and studied at the University of Berlin. He taught briefly at Wilberforce University before he came professor of history and economics at Atlanta University in Ohio (1896-1910). There, he wrote The Souls of Black Folk (1903), in which he pointed out that it was up to whites and blacks jointly to solve the problems created by the denial of civil rights to blacks. In 1905, Du Bois became a major figure in the Niagara Movement, a crusading effort to end discrimination. The organization collapsed, but it prepared the way for the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in which Du Bois played a major role. In 1910, he became editor of the NAACP magazine, a position he held for more than 20 years. Du Bois returned to Atlanta University in 1932 and tried to implement a plan to make the Negro Land Grant Colleges centers of black power. Atlanta approved of his idea, but later retracted its support. When Du Bois tried to return to NAACP, it rejected him too. Active in several Pan-African Congresses, Du Bois came to know Fwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, and Jono Kenyatta the president of Kenya. In 1961, the same year Du Bois joined the Communist party, Nkrumah invited him to Ghana as a director of an Encyclopedia Africana project. He died there on Aug. 27, 1963, after becoming a citizen of that country.
Manning Marable was born in Dayton, Ohio on May 13, 1950. In 1968, he served as the local black newspaper's correspondent and marched along with thousands of others during the funeral procession for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He received a bachelor's degree from Earlham College in Indiana, a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. He wrote around 20 books during his lifetime including How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life, Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance and Radicalism, and Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. He was a professor of African American studies, history, political science and public affairs at Columbia University. He died from complications of pneumonia on April 1, 2011 at the age of 60.