This Day in Black History: Aug. 27, 1963

W. E. B. Du Bois died in Ghana, West Africa, at age 95.

Posted: 08/27/2014 12:00 AM EDT

On Aug. 27, 1963, the eve of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois died at age 95 in Accra, Ghana. That same year, he had become a naturalized citizen of the West African nation.

Born on Feb. 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois attended school with whites and was fully accepted by students and teachers. So it was a shock when he went to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University and met Jim Crow. The experience led to his exploration of race relations in the U.S. and involvement in the civil rights movement.

In 1895, he became the first Black to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, where he'd previously earned a master's degree. He achieved national prominence while a professor at Atlanta University when he sharply disagreed with another famous Black scholar, Booker T. Washington.

Washington urged African-Americans to essentially accept discrimination while working to improve their economic status through largely vocational education. Du Bois, on the other hand, called on Blacks to fight for equal rights through agitation and protest.

In 1909, he helped found the NAACP and served as the editor of the monthly Crisis magazine, but later broke with the organization.

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(Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

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