UMass Amherst Professor David DuBois Assists Egyptian Government Translation of Classic Work By His Stepfather, W.E.B. Du Bois

February 24, 2000

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AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts journalism and Afro-American studies Professor David Du Bois announced today that he has granted the Egyptian government permission to translate into Arabic the classic work "The Souls of Black Folk." The book, which was originally published in 1903 by DuBois''s stepfather W.E.B. Du Bois, is a collection of essays discussing various aspects of racism in America.

The Arabic translation of "The Souls of Black Folk" will be overseen by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture with assistance from Du Bois. The Ministry of Culture hopes to have the Arabic translation ready within a year, DuBois says. After it is translated, the ministry plans to distribute the book to Arabic-speaking populations throughout the Middle East and Africa. The introduction to this Arabic edition of "The Souls of Black Folk" will be written by Du Bois.

"This is part of a series of globally significant works that the Egyptian government plans to translate," DuBois says. "I am honored that ''The Souls of Black Folk'' has achieved this status. It is still as fresh today as it was nearly a century ago."

DuBois retains all rights to foreign editions of the book and is also negotiating translations of it into other languages with various private publishers around the world. This translation, however, is the first to be undertaken by a government agency, Du Bois says. As he explains, "The Souls of Black Folk" has cultural and political significance for Africa as well as African Americans.

"Du Bois was extremely prescient, and he predicted a number of issues which remain with us to this day," DuBois says. "Not only did he coin the term ''the color line'' when referring to the main problem that afflicts America, he also gave birth to the idea of pan-Africanism - an ideal many in Africa continue to work for still."

A native of Seattle, Wash., DuBois was raised by his maternal grandparents, the Rev. David A. and Etta Bell Graham. In 1951, his mother, Shirley Graham, married W.E.B. Du Bois and soon after he legally became David Graham Du Bois.

From 1960 to the present, DuBois has spent much of his life in Cairo, Egypt, where he has been a lecturer at Cairo University and a journalist with numerous organizations including The Egyptian Gazette, the Middle East News and Features Agency, and Radio Cairo. From 1963 to 1966 Du Bois was the North African public relations consultant to the government of Ghana. Today, he divides his time between Amherst and his second home in Egypt.