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Abstract

In 1903, philosopher and scholar William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois expanded upon the concept of “Talented Tenth,” a term coined in an essay [circa 1896] by Reverend Henry Lyman Morehouse, minister and member of American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS). Garnering greater attention, Du Bois’s essay on Negro education, entitled “The Talented Tenth,” focused on a segment of the entire American Negro population instead of Morehouse’s inspiration of a fraction of the men of Augusta Institute (later renamed Morehouse College). From its conception, Du Bois’s essay would be scrutinized for its practicality and perceived endorsement of elitism while conversely being used as a prescription for the success of Negro America. The ensuing era of change has taken African Americans from a past of American chattel slavery to a present of Harvard graduate Barak Obama’s momentous and unprecedented second inauguration as President of the United States on Martin Luther King Day (1/21/2013). This paper examines the relevance and necessity of applying Du Bois’s theory at the time it was written as well as within a current and more modern-day context in order to gain better insight and perspective on how applicable the “Talented Tenth” theory is today to fostering Black achievement.