William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963)

For over 50 years W.E.B Du Bois has been regarded as the dean of negro intellectuals. Who’s Who in America has listed Du Bois in it’s pages every year since it was first published in 1898. Du bois was a pioneer social scientist; he authored one of the standard books on the reconstruction era.

Du Bois was the founder and first editor of the Crisis Magazine. In 1905 he launched the Niagra Movement advocating the immediate ending of racial discrimination and segregation. He was one of the fathers of the NAACP 1908. Du Bois never ceased his fight against racial and economic exploitation.

His mental ability won him scholarships to Fisk and Harvard Universities and the University of Berlin. Du Bois died Aug. 28, 1963. Du Bois was a citizen of Ghana at the time.

In the Crisis Magazine, he wrote this outstanding account of his visit to Idlewild and how much he was impressed by the great Idlewild Resort Community:

“For sheer physical beauty-for sheen of water and golden air, for nobleness of tree, flower or shrub, for shining river and song of bird and the low moving whisper of sun, moon and star, it is the most beautiful stretch I have ever seen for 20 years; and then to that add fellowship-sweet, strong women and keen witted men from Canada and Texas, California and New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois - all sons and great-grandchildren of Ethiopia, all wide leisure of rest and play - can you imagine a more marvelous thing than Idlewild.

I know the cost and prejudice and intriguing ugliness of Atlantic City. I have tasted the lovely beauty of the beach at Sea Isle and sat in the pretty dining room at Dales, Cape May. I have walked the mountains of Ashville and Harper’s Ferry and I know all the by-ways around little old New York. Beside Idlewild they are nothing.

Not for one moment in fine joy of life, absolute freedom from the desperated cruelty of the color line and for the wooing of the great silence which is Peace and contentment-not for one little minute can they rival or catch the bounding pulse of Idlewild.

I have seen the moon rising above purple waters against the velvet background of tall and silent trees. I have seen the stars mirrored in the depths of the mystic bosom of Idlewild Lake. I have seen the sun sink gloriously to rest with no roar of noise or rage of heartbeat, but filmed and crowned and kissed by the music of a million waving leaves and the song of many waters. I have seen the mystery of Dawn, the filmy mists that swathed the light limbs of the world, the hush of dreamless sleep, the chill of conquered death and then-the wide, wide thunder of the rising sun.

Forgive these dithyrambs, for this was written in the spell of the thing.

It is not fashionable: men in khaki, women in snickers and overall, no servants, food cheap, victrolas for orchestra, no high-heeled shoes, but hiking, fishing, tennis, rowing, dancing, spooning and sleeping. Especially sleeping. Long, quiet, glorious naps, night and day to the sound of dancing waters. Fairies and water nymph abound.

Mermaids, hobogoblins, nice gracious ghosts, and drinking water straight from the hills of Paradise, filled with diamonds and pearls and reeking with champagne. Everybody knows everybody, and the world is happy. One dress-up dress will do, and you don’t need that. There is a legend that one man once bought a dress coat. They point out his grave yet.

It is our duty to develop, beautify and govern Idlewild. It must be a center of Negro Art.”

Let us appreciate what our forefathers laid out for this community and not lose the identity of our legacy. Work hard to make this Centennial 2012 a great tribute to our founders who struggled against all odds to make a dream come true.