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Dr Shirley <I>Graham</I> Du Bois

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Dr Shirley Graham Du Bois

  • Birth 11 Nov 1896 Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, USA
  • Death 27 Mar 1977 Beijing, Beijing Municipality, China
  • Burial Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana
  • Plot Ashes beside tomb of her husband
  • Memorial ID 12311743

African-American political activist, biographer, teacher, novelist playwright, composer and advisor, as well as spouse of noted African-American thinker, writer, and activst Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois. Born Shirley Lola Graham, she is remembered and admired for her commitment to the racial uplift of all peoples of color as well as African-Americans. Shirley Graham DuBois was born in Evansville, Indiana on November 11, 1896 (She often gave her age as up to ten years younger), at a time when Jim Crow laws prevailed. Her mother was a homemaker and her father David Graham was a well-educated man, a pastor of an A M E church. He had no qualms about taking up arms, along with other men in his congregation and holding meetings at the church in response to Jim Crow segregation laws. Shirley Graham's great grandfather's farm was one of the underground railway stations. So it's no real wonder where Shirley Graham DuBois got her sense of duty to contribute to the "racial uplift" of her people. As a child, her family moved around the country quite a bit. Young Graham graduated from high school in Spokane, Washington, and married her first husband, Shadrach T. McCants, in 1921, and divorced him in 1927 (In her memoir, however, she had asserted that she was widowed by 1925.) Their son Robert was born in in 1923, followed by David in 1925. Feeling a need for a better education to provide for her family, Graham moved to Paris in 1929 to study music composition, a year later she returned to America teaching at Morgan College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore for two years. She received her undergraduate and master degrees from Oberlin College in 1934 and 1935. Graham then taught music and arts at Agricultural and Industrial State College in Nashville, she also became a supervisor at the Chicago Federal Theater in 1936. It was at this time that she wrote a number of plays including the musical Tom-Tom (1932), Coal Dust (1938), I Gotta Home (1939), Dust to Earth (1941) and the juvenile biography There Once Was a Slave: The Heroic Story of Frederick Douglass (1947). She also wrote a play for radio Track Thirteen in (1940). Graham married Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in 1951, a man she had met as a child of thirteen and admired for many years. It is said that her years married to DuBois 1951 to 1963, may have been the least productive of her life, because she felt obligated to take on a more submissive role as a married woman. After many world tours with her husband, Ms. DuBois became a citizen of Ghana in Africa in 1961. After her husband died in 1963, DuBois took over a number of his unfinished projects, yet in 1967 she was forced to leave Ghana during a military take over. Relocating to Cairo, Egypt, where her son worked as a journalist, Du Bois wrote and published for the rest of her life. Some of her works include: His Day is Marching On (1971), Game! Abdul Nasser, Son of the Nile (1974), Julius K. Nyerere, Teacher of Africa (1975), and a novel The Zulu Heart. Shirley Graham Du Bois died from breast cancer in Peking, China on March 27, 1977. Her cremated ashes rest with the remains of her husband at The DuBois Memorial Center for Pan-African Culture in Acura, Ghana, in peace-enshrined, that her memory will live among men and women in this generation and beyond.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Curtis Jackson
  • Added: 11 Nov 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12311743
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Shirley Graham Du Bois (11 Nov 1896–27 Mar 1977), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12311743, citing Du Bois Memorial Centre, Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana ; Maintained by Find A Grave .