Who Is W.E.B. Du Bois? The Civil Rights Activist Is At The Center Of Betsy DeVos' Latest Controversy
Betsy DeVos found herself in the middle of a pretty cringeworthy controversy on Sunday. The highly controversial secretary of education has been dealing with serious backlash since her appointment and this latest misstep definitely isn't helping her win any brownie points with the American public. The United States Department of Education's Twitter account sent out a tweet containing a quote from the iconic civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois. At first glance, it appeared to be a simple message about the importance of education. The problem, though, is that whoever it was that sent out the tweet seems to have misspelled Du Bois' name.
The spelling error, obviously, did not go unnoticed by the the general Twitter public. The internet was quick to tear into the tweet, retweeting it with memes, jokes, and general disbelief that the spelling error had been made in the first place. While DeVos most likely did not send the tweet herself, it's still an embarrassing mistake for the Department of Education to make in a time of such intense scrutiny, and it's undeniably ironic that the department made a simple spelling error in a tweet that was supposed to be highlighting the importance of a good, well rounded education. W.E.B Du Bois is a prolific American civil rights activist, as well, making the whole slip up even worse for DeVos and company.
Du Bois was born in 1868 and grew up to be one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement in America. His resume is unsurprisingly long and impressive: Du Bois was the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University, and after receiving his advanced degree, he went on to become a history, sociology, and economics professor at Atlanta University. He is perhaps most well known for being one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which is still a critically important organization to this day.
Du Bois was known throughout his life for championing education for African Americans. He famously opposed the Atlanta compromise, which according to Britannica, was an agreement that stated black citizens in the southern United States would peacefully follow white political rule in exchange for basic, segregated educational opportunities. This wasn't enough for Du Bois. He believed, rightfully, that black Americans were entitled to the same unbridled opportunities as their white peers. Du Bois fought for this right throughout his life. He passed away in August 1963.
The U.S. Department of Education has since apologized for its spelling error. The apology also happened to contain another spelling error, however, which did not help officials smooth over the backlash.
It wasn't a great day for DeVos and her team, but something good might just come out of this: The tweet about Du Bois was shared over 2,000 times. Perhaps somebody who hasn't yet had the opportunity to learn about Du Bois and his legacy was introduced to him today.