Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, one of the leading figures in twentieth-century sociology, history, journalism, literature and civil rights activism, studied at what is now Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the years 1892-1894. His stay in Berlin and his studies with German economists, sociologists, and historians proved very influential for his thinking. Du Bois became the author of such seminal works as The Souls of Black Folk (1903), the editor of The Crisis (1920-1934), and the co-founder of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP, 1909) and the Fifth Pan-African Congress (1945). In 1958, Humboldt-Universität awarded him an honorary doctorate.

For over twenty years, the American Studies Program has honored Du Bois’s legacy at Humboldt-Universität through two lecture series: the W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures and the Distinguished W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures. Until now, there has been no visible tribute to him on the university grounds. We are proud to announce that a plaque will be installed on the main building's ground floor (next to the entrance to the Orbis Humboldtianus).

Du Bois is the first U.S.-American and the first Person of Color to be honored by Humboldt-Universität; he is also the first person to be honored as a former student.



Preliminary Draft (2) by Jean-Ulrick Désert
Picture: Preliminary Draft by Jean-Ulrick Désert


We are very pleased that internationally acclaimed artist Jean-Ulrick Désert has agreed to design the plaque. About the Artist.


Work in Progress Presentation (as at October 2019) on VIMEO

In-progress design development of the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial installation for Humboldt University's main building as presented by the artist, Jean-Ulrick Désert, on 15 October 2019 (no audio). Picture rights: Van Vechten Trust (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University) & The Department of Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts



July 2020: Blog des Leibniz-Zentrums für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin

Gianna Zocco (ZfL) talks with Jean-Ulrick Désert and Dorothea Löbbermann about the meaning of the planned memorial for today.


ZEIT Artikel

March 2021: Bürgerrechtler W. E. B. Du Bois: FREI IN BERLIN - Die Humboldt-Universität ehrt den afroamerikanischen Bürgerrechtler W. E. B. Du Bois

- von Tobias Hausdorf






Opening Ceremony

Date t.b.a.



W.E.B. Du Bois in Berlin



W.E.B. Du Bois Memorials in the World



Contact us if you know of other W.E.B. Du Bois memorial sights, lecture series, centers and of course if you would like to start an academic exchange or collaboration with us.



Prof. Dr. Eva Boesenberg
Prof. Dr. Elahe Haschemi Yekani
Dr. Dorothea Löbbermann
Prof. Dr. Martin Klepper

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Anglisktik und Amerikanistik
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

phone: +49 (0) 30 2093 2766


An initiative of the American Studies Program.