William Edward Burghardt "W. E. B." Du Bois (1868 – 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil-rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community. After completing graduate work at the University of Berlin and Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. He rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to fight for independence of African colonies from European powers. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), was a seminal work in African-American literature. The United States' Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned his entire life, was enacted a year after his death.
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