Agitation – Thought For Today

From the book W.E.B. DuBois Speaks, p. 174:

“We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America, ” DuBois wrote in the Niagara Address of 1906.  The militant tone of the statement alarmed and annoyed large sections of the press accustomed to the accommodating language of Booker T. Washington, and DuBois was denounced as “an agitator.” His reply came nearly a year later, and it as valid today as when it first appeared.


There are those people in the world who object to agitation and one cannot wholly blame them.  Agitation after all is unpleasant.  It means that while you are going on peaceably and joyfully on your way some half-mad person insists upon saying things that you do not like to hear.  They may be true but you do not like to hear them.  You would rather wait till some convenient season; or you take up your newspaper and instead of finding pleasant notices about your friends and the present progress of the world, you read of some restless folks who insist on talking about wrong and crime and unpleasant things.  It would be much better if we did not have to have agitation; if we had a world where everything was going so well and it was unnecessary often to protest strongly, even wildly, of the evil and the wrong of the universe.

As a matter of fact, however, no matter how pleasant the agitator is, and no matter how inconvenient and unreasonable his talk, yet we must ever have him with us.  And why?  Because this is a world where things are not all right…

-From the essay, “The Value of Agitation”

Read the book.  Agitate!

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