“Between me and the other world, there is ever an unasked question: How does it feel to be a problem?” That’s W.E.B. Du Bois, sociologist, historian, writer, and one of the co-founders of the NAACP, writing for The Atlantic in 1897. His article, “Strivings of the Negro People,” addresses the alienation experienced by emancipated slaves and their families three decades later—or, in his words, “the freedman [who] has not yet found in freedom his promised land.” The article has been excerpted and animated in the video above.
“It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others—shut out from their world by a vast veil,” writes Du Bois. “For the world I longed for, and all its dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?”