cover of program honoring the 60th anniversary of the death of Du Bois

A Celebration of legacy

Remembering W. E. B. Du Bois in Ghana

By Whitney Battle-Baptiste, PhD, Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center

This past August, in a trip funded by the UMass Amherst Libraries and the W. E. B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, I was invited to participate in a weekend of events at the W. E. B. Du Bois Centre in Accra, Ghana, to mark the 60th anniversary of Du Bois’s death. On the first day there was a panel of scholars and community leaders to commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Du Bois in Ghana and the world.

We had an audience of local dignitaries, Elders, members of the African American Association of Ghana, students from the University of Cape Coast, University of Ghana, and several other institutions in and around Accra. The dignitaries who were present included Jeffery Peck, great grandson of Du Bois, as well as scholars like Dr. Lanisha Kitchiner, Chief of African & Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress; Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado of Morehouse College; Dr. David Levering Lewis, author & biographer of Du Bois; Dr. Aldon Morris, author of The Scholar Denied; and Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Paramount Chief of the Esikado Tradition Area.

The second day was about reflection and remembering Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois and their time at the site where Dr. Du Bois lived out his final years. The W. E. B. Du Bois Museum Foundation is a New York based nonprofit organization started in 2019 with the exclusive mission of honoring the life, purpose, and legacy of the celebrated Father of Pan-Africanism, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, by redeveloping and rebranding his final resting place in Accra, Ghana. The interest and dedication of the Foundation is to revive the current Du Bois Memorial Centre into a Museum Complex and as a destination for scholars, artists, and heritage tourists alike.

statue honoring Du Bois

The goals of the W. E. B. Du Bois Museum Foundation and the Du Bois Center here at UMass are in close alignment and I am particularly proud of our partnership. In the state in which he was born, and in the city in which he died, our two organizations are continuing to ensure that his wisdom lives on and is accessible to all. We are both custodians of a mighty legacy, one that has much to teach those in Ghana, in Massachusetts, and around the world as we confront the issues of our own time.

Whitney with Dzigbordi Kwaku

“In addition to the moving and meaningful events of the celebration, I was also able to connect with Dzigbordi Kwaku (left), who is a very successful entrepreneur and public figure in Ghana. She was also one of my sorority sisters at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority from my undergrad days at Virginia State University. We hadn’t seen each other in thirty years!” -W.B.B.

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Check out the Libraries’ video honoring Du Bois:

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