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Harvard has a duty to establish a research institute to honor W.E.B. Du Bois '88 for his work towards establishing black studies, a black historian said last night.
Charles H. Wesley, who obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1925, told 100 people in Emerson Hall to let Du Bois' name "live at Harvard in an institute of learning."
"There should be a research institute for graduate work in black history just like there are such institutes for the Chinese, Japanese, Greeks and others," Wesley said.
Wesley spoke glowingly of Du Bois, one of the first blacks to attend Harvard, calling him a "major prophet," a "Harvard scholar in every sense," and the "originator of black power."
"DuBois was opposed to segregation but at the same time in favor of blacks banding together to achieve power," Wesley said. "Thus, he was the creator of the first black power concepts."
Wesley's oral biography traced and highlighted events in the life of the "pioneer in the rescue of black people..., the literary knight with a plumed pen" when Du Bois was one of only two blacks attending Harvard in the late 1880's.
He urged the audience to follow in the footsteps of the man he said "blazed the trail that leads toward a goal in black studies."
There is also a need for the development of the "inner self' Wesley said. "Build it tall, clear, true, high, broad. Build it, whether black or white, for the eye of God."
The youthful-looking 81-year-old Wesley graduated from Fisk University in 1911 and received his Bachelor of Arts from Fisk in 1911. He received a Masters from Yale in 1913.
Wesley was a Guggenheim Fellow, served as president of Wilberforce College, chairman of the History Department of Howard University, dean of the Graduate School of Howard University and president and executive director of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.
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