"Credo" by W.E.B. Du Bois

January 07, 2016

"Credo" by W.E.B. Du Bois

Taken from the introduction to Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil, Du Bois' essay has the cadence and the power of a Shakespearean monologue. A resonant and striking creed.

I believe in God, who made of one blood all nations that on earth do dwell. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying through time and opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the possibility of infinite development.

Especially do I believe in the Negro Race; in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.

I believe in Pride of race and lineage and self; in pride of self so deep as to scorn injustice to other selves; in pride of lineage so great as to despise no man's father; in pride of race so chivalrous as neither to offer bastardy to the weak nor beg wedlock of the strong, knowing that men may be brothers in Christ, even though they be not brothers-in-law.

I believe in Service-humble, reverent service, from the blackening of boots to the whitening of souls, for the work is heaven, idleness hell, and wage is the "Well Done!" of the Master who summoned all them that labor and are heavy laden, making no distinction between the black, sweating cotton hands of Georgia and the first families of Virginia, since all distinction not based on deed is devilish and not divine.

I believe in the Devil and his angels, who wantonly work to narrow the opportunity of struggling human beings, especially if they be black; who spit in the faces of the fallen, strike them that cannot strike again, believe the worst and work to prove it, hating the image which their Maker stamped on a brother's soul.

I believe in the Prince of Peace. I believe that war is murder. I believe that armies and navies at bottom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong; and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations whiter and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength.

I believe in Liberty for all men; the space to stretch their arms and their souls. The right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride the railroads, uncursed by color: thinking, dreaming, working so they will in a kingdom of Beauty and Love.

I believe in the training of children, black even as white; the leading out of little souls into the green pastures and beside the still waters, not for pelf or peace, but life lit by some large vision of beauty and goodness and truth; lest we forget, and the sons of the fathers, like Esau, for mere meat barter their birthright in a mighty nation.

Finally, I believe in Patience-patience with the weakness of the weak, and the strength of the strong, the prejudice of the ignorant and the ignorance of the blind; patience with the tardy triumph of joy and the mad chastening of sorrow — patience with God!

"Credo" from W.E.B. Du Bois' 1920 book Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil.

Share Episode

Shortened URL


was a poet, educator, and activist. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. She is most well-known for her series of seven autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies at Yale University. She wrote and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Her memoir, The Light of the World, was published in 2015.

is emeritus professor of English at Stanford University and author of The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2010.