American writer and founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People W.E.B. Du Bois made American history on this day in 1943, becoming the first African American member of the National Institute of Letters. Now known as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the prestigious group of writers was founded in 1898 for “the advancement of art and literature”, capping its membership at 250 total. Composed of architects, artists, writers, and composers of notable achievement, the American Academy of Arts and Letters membership eventually inducted other African Americans like Duke Ellington and Colson Whitehead.
“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 on the railroads.” —
W.E.B. Du Bois