Web-Du-Bois (263665)

A group of veterans in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, are opposing the proposed statue of W.E.B. Du Bois, pointing to the controversial life of the famous educator who reportedly became a communist before he died at age 93. According to MassLive.com, The group opposes plans to install the statue of Du Bois in front of the Great Barrington library, saying the scholar’s association with Communism disqualifies him from public acclaim. Marine Corps veteran Andy Moro, who chairs the Republican Town Committee, told the Berkshire Eagle that the statue would be an insult to veterans, he said in a letter to the editor. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington in 1868. He was the first Black man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. He co-founded the NAACP in 1909, championed world peace and Pan-African causes, and is best known for “The Souls of Black Folk,” a collection of 14 influential essays. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963, but not before joining the Communist Party at the age of 93. Library trustee president Patrick Hollenbeck recently invited Moro and others to voice their concerns in person. At the meeting, Moro said Du Bois had praised Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as a “great man.” Another opponent said his great-grandfather had come from Lithuania, a nation invaded by Russian communists. Others said public property should not be used to honor Du Bois. Justin Jackson, assistant professor of history at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, was one of several to present another point of view. Jackson said Du Bois had a lifelong interest in socialism and Marxism, had criticized Communism and was curious about Stalinism before the authoritarian leader’s crimes became well known. Du Bois in 1951 was indicted under the Foreign Agents of Registration Act while running a peace information center in New York. From 1949 to 1955, he was vice chair of the Council on African Affairs, an organization under surveillance by the FBI. Du Bois only joined the Communist Party after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the McCarran Act, requiring party members to register with the federal government. After that act of civil resistance, Du Bois moved to Africa. Du Bois is Great Barrington’s most famous native son. The town is home to the Du Bois Center at Great Barrington, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring the African-American experience. The statue will need to be privately funded, and it won’t be built without approval by the Board of Selectmen.