The Crisis

The journal I am interested in looking into the The Crisis, which was edited and created by W.E.B. Du Bois. The journal was started by Du Bois in 1910 as a way to talk about segregation and racial injustices. At the time of its publication, The Crisis would have been one of the only pamphlets of its kind, making it incredibly important to those starting to fight for equal rights.

The Modernist Journals Project’s website includes a short write-up on the importance of The Crisis at the time and how important it grew to be. The write-up says, “Written for educated African-American readers, the magazine reached a truly national audience within nine years, when its circulation peaked at about 100,000. The Crisis’s stated mission, like that of the NAACP itself, was to pursue “the world-old dream of human brotherhood” by bearing witness to “the danger of race prejudice” and reporting on “the great problem of inter-racial relations,” both at home and abroad” (“The Crisis”).

At its time of publication, The Crisis would have been unlike any other publication with a wide-reaching circulation. It directly addresses the problem of racial inequality and offers instances of prejudice against the African American community, something that few other sources at the time would have had the courage to cover. The Crisis also gave a voice to some of the up-and-coming artists of the Harlem Renaissance including Langston Hughes. The publication gave a voice to a large group of people who deserved to be heard but were suppressed by the injustices of society.

Cover of “The Crisis” featuring Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth / picture obtained from Pinterest

The intention of the editors to promote a particular idea is clear in this publication, whether it be in the title of the journal, the content, or even some of the cover art. The title, The Crisis, points directly to the intent behind publication: there is a crisis of vast injustice against a large group of people, and nothing is being done about it. The content, focusing on the artistic and social achievements of the African American community despite society’s vast disapproval as well as a detailing of the injustices done by society, further demonstrates a commitment to showcasing the achievements of African American society in the United States and pushing back against the unfair prejudice and violence shown to a whole community. One of the featured cover pages even demonstrates the intent of the magazine. A picture of Abraham Lincoln with Sojourner Truth is printed on the front of the booklet. Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Sojourner Truth, an influential advocate for African American rights.

“Sojourner Truth.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Sept. 2019,’t_I_a_Woman?%22.

“The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races Du Bois, W. E. Burghardt (Editor) New York: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1910-11 / 1922-12.” Modernist Journals Project,

2 thoughts on “The Crisis”

  1. This magazine is such a fascinating space to explore. Note: you can use the “Advanced Search Tool” to highlight the contributions of particular authors–this might be helpful in your research process as there are so many issues. I am fascinated by all of the modes of discourse that come together here…even down to the advertisements (which are directed at a black reader, and are artifacts that reflect the culture outside the pages of the magazine). I am also interested in The Crisis as a space where art cohabited with political discourse –and, notably, with meaningful reporting and commentary on the horrors of lynching. Please send me a thesis statement if you need some extra guidance as you sit down to write!


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