ABSTRACT

W. E. B. Du Bois’ conception of the role of the educated elite underwent significant changes during his long career. Previous assessments of Du Bois’ conceptions of the role of this stratum have mainly been limited to the earliest stages of the formulation of the elite as it related to the then on-going political and intellectual debate between Booker T. Washington and Du Bois. Consequently, considerations of the role of the educated elite have mainly centered on Du Bois early essays and books, while further development of his concept has been virtually ignored. An analysis of Du Bois’ writings on the concept during the later phase of his life indicates some marked changes from that developed in his early essays and books. Since Du Bois viewed the educated elite as a crucial factor in societal change, it is important to note the continuities that persisted in his overall assessment of the “role” of the educated despite his changing view that resulted from what he termed the “failures” of this particular group.