W.E.B. DuBois’ widow blazed her own trail

Celebrating Black History

W.E.B. DuBois’ widow blazed her own trail

By John Tuohy

Shirley_Graham_DuBois                      Kwame Nkrumah  WEB Dubois Shirley Graham Dubois Ghana  Jul 1, 1960.      

     Shirley Graham Dubois        Kwame Nkrumah, WEB Dubois, Shirley Dubois Ghana Jul 1 1960          

Shirley Graham DuBois was an Evansville-born author, playwright, composer and activist who married the scholar and writer W.E.B. DuBois in his later years.

Graham DuBois devoted much of her life to fighting for desegregation in the United States and decolonization in Africa.

Her books include biographies of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Paul Robeson. She wrote a three-act, 16-scene opera, "Tom-Toms: An Epic of Music and the Negro," and a memoir of her time with W.E.B. DuBois.

Graham DuBois also was a field organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a founding member of the Progressive Party.

After a brief first marriage, Graham DuBois moved to Paris in 1929 to study music composition. A year later, she returned to the United States and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Oberlin College in Ohio.

In 1951, Graham DuBois, then 54, married W.E.B. DuBois, who was 84 and fighting off accusations of ties to the Communist Party. She had met him when she was 13, and they had become close associates in the 1940s.

In 1961, the DuBoises renounced their U.S. citizenship and became citizens of Ghana. Her husband died two years later, but Graham DuBois spent the rest of her life writing and traveling.

She died in 1977.

A composer Author Shirley Graham DuBois helped start the Progressive Party

A composer, too: Author Shirley Graham DuBois helped start the Progressive Party. – Photo provided by weekly.ahram.org

W.E.B. DuBois’ widow blazed her own trail | IndyStar.com | The Indianapolis Star

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