Book Review – Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept 

Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept by W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the first books I finished reading in 2022. It is W.E.B. Du Bois’ autobiography; however, this book is not your traditional autobiography.

I highlighted many thoughts Du Bois shared in this book. One quote I highlighted was, “We want our children educated … Either the United States will destroy ignorance, or ignorance will destroy the United States.” This was in reference to illiteracy in the United States, especially among Black people. 

Du Bois looked at his life through the lens of race while also providing snippets of his family tree. Although this was published in 1935, Du Bois’s frustrations as a Black man in America are relatable to Black Americans today. It really made me wonder if anything has really changed since his concerns are still felt by people today.

Also, Booker T. Washington, who is a great African American in his own right, made Du Bois big mad! At one point in his autobiography, Du Bois said, “I don’t care a damn what Booker Washington thinks!” and then he shared that he wrote a chapter in another work called “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others.” Du Bois cared even if he didn’t admit to it.

When Du Bois shared that Washington had died later in his autobiography and even made positive points about Washington’s life, I thought, “that’s nice; you put aside your differences” and then Du Bois said, “on the other hand” and went back to complaining. I’m not going to lie; I found this so odd yet humorous. I also appreciated that two great Black men could be striving for the same outcome and going about it from different lenses. It truly showed that Black people are not a monolith.

If you have not read this book, I suggest you read it. Du Bois is an elegant and thoughtful writer. After reading his autobiography, I encourage readers to read his other works.

Rating: 4/5

Suggested GradesHigh School and Beyond
Scholastic Book WizardNot Available
Guided Reading LevelNot Available
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