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W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.
Du Bois called his epic Black Flame trilogy a fiction of interpretation. It acts as a representative biography of African American history by following one man, Manuel Mansart, from his birth in 1876 until his death. The Black Flame attempts to use this historical fiction of interpretation to recast and revisit the African American experience. Readers will appreciate The Black Flame trilogy as a clear articulation of Du Bois's perspective at the end of his life.
The second book in this profound trilogy, Mansart Builds a School, opens with Mansart's election to superintendent of Negro schools in Atlanta and follows him as he ascends to the position of president of Georgia State A&M College. The book provides a damning portrait of the state of education for African Americans in the south. Building upon the drama and intrigue of The Ordeal of Mansart in Du Bois's signature lyrical style, Mansart Builds a School delves into the realities of the ordinary southern black experience of the early twentieth century. With a series introduction by editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an introduction by Brent Hayes Edwards, this edition is essential for anyone interested in African American literature.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He has edited several major reference works, including Dictionary of African Biography, African American Lives,Africana, and African American National Biography. In addition, he is Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center (www.oxfordaasc.com).