The William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois Award


The William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois Award was established by the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists in 1970. Introduced by James E. Conyers, ASBS President, it was initiated to honor an outstanding social or behavioral scientist or civic leader who is credited for making a significant contribution to the greater knowledge and understanding of African-Americans. Thus, award recipients include prominent scholars, government officials, and civic leaders whose contributions reflect the prolific scholarly and political contributions of W.E.B. DuBois.



DuBois was an innovative, creative, and original thinking scholar who participated in the early meetings of the Conference of Teachers of Social Science in Negro Colleges, ASBS’s predecessor. His early participation and subsequent appearances in later years were part of his dedication to an intellectual life which spanned several generations.

 In his interdisciplinary, scholarly publications, DuBois examined critical themes in African-American life. Four of his books–The Souls of Black Folk, Black Reconstruction, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade, and The Philadelphia Negro; the Atlanta University research series; and his editorship of Phylon Magazine provided the American scholarly community with a different perspective on the socioeconomic and political conditions of African-Americans. In his discussion of The Philadelphia Negro, David Levering Lewis stated that "DuBois’ scholarly writings carried the vivid narrative power that other urban studies would lack until . . . more than thirty years in the future."


In addition to his scholarly research, DuBois was an advocate for civil rights in America and abroad. He participated in the first Pan-African Congress which focused on the impact of colonialism on the African continent. As editor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's official organ, The Crisis, he promoted improved race relations through editorials which attacked every aspect of segregation in America. The life of W.E.B. DuBois as a scholar and activist provides an inspiring example for young scholars.  Since the inception of this prestigious award, it has been bestowed upon more than 40 prominent citizens across the nation. 


A list of past W.E.B. DuBois Award Recipients and biographies, effective for selection dates, are provided below: