College Education


W.E.B. Du Bois


January 1, 1914

The training of youth—the revelation of life, its present technique and its future possibilities to growing young people—is a matter of intricacy and difficulty to any people. But it is peculiarly difficult to colored Americans who must, in addition, teach of invisible bonds and concealed social barriers, of worlds within worlds and dangerous waste places, of subtle temptations and unnatural restraints. Every artificially increased difficulty that surrounds colored children to-day should be additional incentive to make their education and mental development the highest possible. Only in the higher intellectual life of to-day can they hope to find that freedom, fellowship and joy which fiendish ingenuity cuts out of so much of their work, their amusements and their daily walks.

The colored people should strain every nerve to send their children through the best colleges. No matter what avenues of employment may be closed to them, give them thorough intellectual training according to their very best standards; then let them dig. cook and sew. Make them men even if they have to be menials. In the long run they will burst their bonds and be modern free men. But train them so that in the day of sundered bonds they can take their place beside their fellows and not be held back then by ignorance as they are now by prejudice.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1914. “College Education.” The Crisis 8 (3): 128.