The 1960s have been described as the “civil rights decade” in American history. Few scholar-activists have been identified as strongly with the legal, social, economic, and political changes culminating in the 1960s as has African American historian, sociologist, psychologist W. E. B. Du Bois. Inexplicably, in 2003, the 100-year anniversary of Du Bois' classic, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), came and went with little fanfare within or outside of academia. However, in 2004, the 50-year anniversary of the initial U. S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) presents an opportunity for ethnic studies in general, and Black studies in particular, to acknowledge the intellectual and political contributions of Du Bois to the civil rights movement in the United States. In the post-Civil Rights Era, some authors have suggested that Du Bois opposed the initial Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruling. In contrast, I observe in the present paper that Du Bois (1957) opposed the U. S. Supreme Court's subsequent (1955) ruling that invoked the much-criticized term “with all deliberate speed,” rather than the initial (1954) ruling that rendered the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional. Moreover, I contend that Du Bois' own values and attitudes were fully consistent with his position on the (1954, 1955) decisions.
A time series analysis was used to investigate: (1) whether a significant increase in news coverage of South Africa occurred during the critical years of 1979–1985; (2) whether the geographic origin and/or sociopolitical impact of events, rather than deaths per se , caused the increase; and (3) the manner in which the increase occurred. Results indicated that two symbolic events (i.e., a series of riots in twenty-one South African townships, internal to South Africa; and the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Bishop Desmond Tutu, external to South Africa) cumulatively were responsible for a significant rise in news coverage of South Africa. The relationship of these symbolic sociopolitical events to the forces that shape short-term news headlines and long-term social change in general, including the imminent demise of apartheid in particular is discussed.