Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1918 - EAH to W.E.B. DuBois

Uncle Teddy had been DuBois' student at Atlanta University, which he attended from 1900 until his graduation in 1904. They remained in contact after Teddy left Atlanta for art school in Boston. He knew DuBois' wife and daughter, and gave the latter a painting as a wedding gift upon her 1928 marriage to poet Countee Cullen. Because money was often tight, Uncle Teddy occasionally gave his artwork as a gift.

121 Calhoun St.
Charleston, S.C.
Mar 2, ’18

My dear Doctor,
I had hoped to have you receive a bookplate (a drawing for which I have mailed separately) in time for the celebration of your fiftieth birthday, but my eyes have been bothering me and I had to give it over. The little thing is done now, and I send it with this one regret – that it will cost you a few pennies to have the plate made. That may be a bad kind of gift to make, especially to an editor, but then you might make the excuse that it is from a student to his friend and teacher.

It may have been better made or designed differently, but I am quite sure that no more fitting device could border the plate than this prophetic sentence “The problem of the Twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”

And now that you are fifty, we are all thanking God that you have not yet lowered your colors nor turned from that straight course that leads through honor to glory. We who know you have preached you and prophesied this very day – which must be somewhat cheering after those painful days of misrepresentation and slander, as you intimated in that charming bit of autobiography in the February Crisis. Please give us something like it again – it sounds like the “Souls of Black Folk” essays.

I am writing Dill to ask of you the honor of your … signature in “The Souls of Black Folk” and “The Negro.” This is my eighth copy of the former, having presented seven copies since 1903 to friends I thought should know you better.

I do not know how many more birthdays to wish you – it might be very embarrassing, but I do know that there will be sad days in Ethiopia when they cease.

Kindest regards to Mrs. DuBois and Miss Yolande.

Loyally yours,

"Dill" was Augustus Dill, who graduated from Atlanta University in 1906 and later became editor of the NAACP's Crisis magazine.

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