I believe in God, who made of one blood all nations that on
earth do dwell. I believe that all men, black and brown and
white, are brothers, varying through time and opportunity, in
form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular,
and alike in soul and the possibility of infinite development.
Especially do I believe in the Negro Race: in the beauty of
its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that
meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.
I believe in Pride of race and lineage and self: in pride of
self so deep as to scorn injustice to other selves; in pride
of lineage so great as to despise no man’s father; in
pride of race so chivalrous as neither to offer bastardy to
the weak nor beg wedlock of the strong, knowing that men may
be brothers in Christ, even though they be not brothers-in-law.
I believe in Service—humble, reverent service, from the
blackening of boots to the whitening of souls; for Work is Heaven,
Idleness Hell, and Wage is the “Well done!” of the
Master, who summoned all them that labor and are heavy laden,
making no distinction between the black, sweating cotton hands
of Georgia and the first families of Virginia, since all distinction
not based on deed is devilish and not divine.
I believe in the Devil and his angels, who wantonly work to
narrow the opportunity of struggling human beings, especially
if they be black; who spit in the faces of the fallen, strike
them that cannot strike again, believe the worst and work to
prove it, hating the image which their Maker stamped on a brother’s
I believe in the Prince of Peace. I believe that War is Murder.
I believe that armies and navies are at bottom the tinsel and
braggadocio of oppression and wrong, and I believe that the
wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations whiter
and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength.
I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their
arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to
vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine,
and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming,
working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love.
I believe in the Training of Children, black even as white;
the leading out of little souls into the green pastures and
beside the still waters, not for pelf or peace, but for life
lit by some large vision of beauty and goodness and truth; lest
we forget, and the sons of the fathers, like Esau, for mere
meat barter their birthright in a mighty nation.
Finally, I believe in Patience—patience with the weakness
of the Weak and the strength of the Strong, the prejudice of
the Ignorant and the ignorance of the Blind; patience with the
tardy triumph of Joy and the mad chastening of Sorrow.
These are the things of which men think, who live: of their
own selves and the dwelling place of their fathers; of their
neighbors; of work and service; of rule and reason and women
and children; of Beauty and Death and War. To this thinking
I have only to add a point of view: I have been in the world,
but not of it. I have seen the human drama from a veiled corner,
where all the outer tragedy and comedy have reproduced themselves
in microcosm within. From this inner torment of souls the human
scene without has interpreted itself to me in unusual and even
illuminating ways. For this reason, and this alone, I venture
to write again on themes on which great souls have already said
greater words, in the hope that I may strike here and there
a half-tone, newer even if slighter, up from the heart of my
problem and the problems of my people.
Between the sterner flights of logic, I have sought to set some
little alightings of what may be poetry. They are tributes to
Beauty, unworthy to stand alone; yet perversely, in my mind,
now at the end, I know not whether I mean the Thought for the
Fancy—or the Fancy for the Thought, or why the book trails
off to playing, rather than standing strong on unanswering fact.
But this is alway—is it not?—the Riddle of Life.
by W.E. Burghardt DuBois,
founder of the NAACP;
Voices From Within The Veil
New York, 1919