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The On Being Project

Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander, and Arnold Rampersad

W.E.B. Du Bois & the American Soul

One of the most extraordinary minds of American and global history, W.E.B. Du Bois penned the famous line that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” He is a formative voice for many of the people who gave us the Civil Rights Movement. But his passionate, poetic words and intelligence continue to enliven 21st-century life on the color line and beyond it. We bring Du Bois’ life and ideas into relief — featuring one of the last interviews the great Maya Angelou gave before her death.
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  • Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou

    was a poet, educator, and activist. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. She is most well-known for her series of seven autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

  • Elizabeth Alexander

    Elizabeth Alexander

    is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University. She's the author of a new memoir, The Light of the World. She's also the author of several books of essays and poetry including Crave Radiance.

  • Arnold Rampersad

    Arnold Rampersad

    is emeritus professor of English at Stanford University and author of The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2010.