"The Souls of Black Folk," by W.E.B. Du Bois explores the struggle of African-Americans to gain social and economic equality in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Du Bois believes that education is the answer to the inequality that faces his people. However, there is a "veil" that hangs between them and society, impeding on their chances at success, and thus, equality. In addition to the veil, African-Americans must deal with the idea of the "double consciousness," which forces them to think of themselves as belonging to two different groups: Africans and Americans.
In the introduction, Donald B. Gibson refers to Du Bois' idea of the veil. According to Du Bois, all African-Americans are born with this veil, which he views as a curse. Gibson agrees, citing Du Bois' description of it as a "blinding" which prevents his people from attaining success.
The theme of the "double consciousness" is also prevalent in the book.
It explains the inability of African-Americans to think of themselves as members of the white society, or strive to attain such status. This double consciousness is supplemented by general discrimination by whites. For example, Du Bois talks about the education of black men in the South and refers to the number of graduates from institutes of higher education. He then describes the hardship with which the African-Americans must deal, despite having an education equal to that of their white counterparts: "The foundations of knowledge in this race, as in others, must be sunk deep in the college and university if we would build a solid, permanent structure. Internal problems of social advance must inevitably come, -problems of work and wages, of families and homes, of morals and the true valuing of the things of life and all these and other inevitable problems of civilization the Negro...