Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
In this speech to the Association of Negro Social Science Teachers, Du Bois challenges that "what we must now ask ourselves is when we become equal American citizens what will be our aims and ideals and what will we have to do with selecting these aims and ideals." To wholeheartedly accept the ideals of white Americans would mean the destruction of African Americans as a distinct people: to "become white in action if not completely in color." Du Bois argues that he is fighting for the possibility of a distinctive black culture to exist without discrimination in America. School desegregation brings new challenges in terms of educating African American students, for instance, fewer opportunities for learning about African American history and literature, the likelihood of hostility on the part of many white teachers toward their black students, and the probable disappearance of black colleges. African American teachers will face the special burden of advocating for the preservation of black literature and history as part of the curriculum at racially-integrated schools. Teachers and parents must also carefully guide African American children into vocations that work toward the public good, not just the accumulation of profit. Du Bois also speaks to the difficulty for educators of teaching their students to think critically about the government or about capitalism for fear of losing their jobs. He appeals to teachers to teach the truth even if it means risking their jobs, to learn about socialism and communism, to travel to socialist countries, to never bow to the "new American slavery of thought", and above all to work for peace in the world.