SquareOne Publishers Re-Issues Knights of Columbus 1924 Black History Classic

January 17, 2009

W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Gift of Black Folk originally part of K of C ‘Racial Contribution Series’

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ — In 1924, Jim Crow laws were still enforced in many parts of the United States and the KKK was experiencing a resurgence. Martin Luther King Jr. had not yet been born, and the Civil Rights Act would not be enacted for another 40 years. Nonetheless, it was the year in which the Knights of Columbus commissioned and published a landmark history of black Americans: The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America, by civil rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), of which Du Bois was a founding member, and to mark the milestone, a new edition of the book will be released January 20 and will be widely available in February – Black History Month. The Gift of Black Folk presents in meticulous detail the contributions of black Americans from the earliest colonial settlements through World War I and the early 1920s.

The new edition is being published by SquareOne Publishers in New York and features an introduction by Carl A. Anderson, who, prior to becoming Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, spent nearly a decade working on issues of racial equality as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Anderson states in the introduction: “A hundred years after W.E.B. Du Bois helped cofound the NAACP, the United States can view its civil rights achievements with pride. African-Americans have served on the Supreme Court, in the Cabinet, and, finally, as President of the United States. The Gift of Black Folk allows us to fully appreciate these monumental achievements. It is our belief that Du Bois’ classic work will continue to inform and inspire for many generations to come.”

Especially in 1924, the book was understood to be groundbreaking and was seen as an important contribution to black history and racial tolerance. The Oakland Tribune’s review, published that year, stated: “The book is one of the most valuable contributions to American literature published in a decade, the result of which should create a better understanding among the races.”

Against the backdrop of widespread bigotry, the Knights of Columbus established an Historical Commission, the purpose of which was to combat the revisionist history of the time, which tended to exclude minority groups from the record of historical achievement. The project was overseen by Edward McSweeney, who served as assistant U.S. Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island from 1893-1902.

In addition to The Gift of Black Folk, other books were published as part of the Knights’ racial contribution series. Since anti-Semitism was prevalent in the United States in the early 20th century, and since German-Americans found themselves distrusted following World War I, the Order also published The Jews in the Making of America by George Cohen and the The Germans in the Making of America by Frederick Schrader.

SOURCE Knights of Columbus

Source: newswire

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