‘Social Equality’

Social Equality

W.E.B. Du Bois


January 1, 1911

At last we have a definition of the very elusive phrase “Social Equality” as applied to the Negro problem. In stating their grievances colored people have recently specified these points:

  1. Disfranchisement, even of educated Negroes.
  2. Curtailment of common school training.
  3. Confinement to “Ghettos.”
  4. Discrimination in wages.
  5. Confinement to menial employment.
  6. Systematic insult of their women.
  7. Lynching and miscarriage of justice.
  8. Refusal to recognize fitness “in political or industrial life.”
  9. Personal discourtesy.

Southern papers in Charlotte, Richmond, New Orleans and Nashville have with singular unanimity hastened to call this complaint an unequivocal demand for “social equality,” and as such absolutely inadmissible. We are glad to have a frank definition, because we have always suspected this smooth phrase. We recommend on this showing that hereafter colored men who hasten to disavow any desire for “social equality” should carefully read the above list of disabilities which social inequality would seem to prescribe.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1911. ‘Social Equality’.” The Crisis 1 (3): 20–21. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/01/03/social_equality.html.