Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Mass on February 23, 1868. Throughout his childhood, he excelled in school and upon his graduation from high school, members of the community awarded Du Bois with a scholarship to attend Fisk University. While at Fisk, Du Bois experienced racism and poverty that was very different to his experiences in Great Barrington. As a result, Du Bois decided that he would dedicate his life to ending racism and uplifting African-Americans.
In 1888, Du Bois graduated from Fisk and was accepted to Harvard University where he earned a master’s degree, a doctorate and a fellowship to study for two years at the University of Berlin in Germany. Following his studies in Berlin, Du Bois argued that through racial inequality and injustice could be exposed through scientific research. However, after observing the remaining body parts of a man who was lynched, Du Bois was convinced that scientific research was not enough.