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«The Brownies’ Book»: Inspiring Racial Pride in African-American Children

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Christina Schäffer

‘The Brownies’ Book:’ Inspiring Racial Pride in African-American Children offers a descriptive analysis and interpretation of America’s first magazine for young African-Americans. Published by W.E.B. Du Bois in cooperation with Jessie Fauset and Augustus Granville Dill, the monthly hoped to foster a new African-American identity by (re)connecting «the children of the sun» with Africa, by turning them into proud Americans, and by educating them to be global citizens. The editors turned the crow into a positive symbol of blackness and provided photographs which proved that «black is beautiful» to increase the self-esteem of black youths. The magazine was a harbinger of the Harlem Renaissance and served as a creative outlet for many African-American writers and artists, among them many women.

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6 The Brownies’ Book and Beyond

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6.1 Demise of The Brownies’ Book This is the last Brownies’ Book. For twenty-four months we have brought Joy and Knowledge to four thousand Brownies stretched from Oregon to Florida. But there are two million Brownies in the United States, and unless we got at least one in every hundred to read our pages and help pay printing, we knew we must at last cease to be. And now the month has come to say goodbye. We are sorry – much sorrier than any of you, for it has all been such fun. After all – who knows – perhaps we shall meet again.884 Thus is the sad news which appeared on the Brownies’ Book cover in December 1921. In the “Valedictory,” Du Bois and Dill elaborated further on the discontinuance of their children’s periodical. They assert that the magazine, which was an “experiment” at their own expenses, has cost them $7,000 but that the total revenue has only been around $4,000, which meant that they were left “some $3,000 in debt” (TBB Dec. 1921: 354).885 Even though Du Bois also vouched for the project with his personal assets – he loaned $500 “for a special advertising trip 884 Cover, TBB Dec. 1921: n. pag., print. 885 Although The Brownies’ Book was Du Bois’ and Dill’s personal experiment, they also had the approval of the NAACP, as Du Bois states in the Report of Examination of the Records of the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People in...

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