In 1935, the civil rights leader and African American intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois published Black Reconstruction: An Essay toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860–1880. Largely ignored by academics at the time, the book attracted favorable attention from black readers; in the past half century, the classic has found an appreciative audience among historians who take inspiration from Du Bois's arguments and passion. Up for Debate invites four scholars—Brian Kelly, Susan Eva O'Donovan, Tera Hunter, and Jason P. McGraw—to reflect upon the book's origins, arguments, and evidence in light of the wealth of scholarship that has appeared over the past several generations. Du Bois's purpose and approach, the extent to which his arguments have been sustained or modified, the book's influence on modern scholarship, and the applicability of Du Bois's insights to studies of emancipation beyond the United States are questions that are discussed.
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