Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
In his 1958 Commencement address at Fisk University Du Bois recalls his education at Fisk. Although the school was lacking in facilities and materials, Du Bois says that he received a fine education that fulfilled his burning thirst for knowledge and intellectual inquiry. After graduating he was dismayed to find that his academic research was often hampered since American society values only that which can make it wealthier. He is also disappointed to find that this culture has transformed Fisk University into a "refuge for spoiled children" that, far from being an anomaly, represents the direction that all American colleges have taken. He find that students he has spoken with "did not want to inquire or discuss. They wanted to get a safe job in a new system of society." In his view, the responsibility of African American higher education should not be the creation of wealth, but the cultivation and preservation of African American culture.