The Rev. David Graham feared that a mob was coming to burn down his church. The community meeting he had organized to protest the killing of a young Black boy by a policeman had stirred up trouble. So Graham stood before his congregation with a loaded gun and a Bible, told the women and children to get out of harm’s way, and prepared, alongside 21 armed men, to fight.
In the end, nothing came of it, but the reverend’s young daughter, Shirley, about age 6, was marked forever by the scene and others like it in the American South at the turn of the last century. As a result, she devoted her life to fighting racism and oppression as a writer and an activist. Unlike the contributions of her second husband, famed civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, Graham Du Bois’ have largely been forgotten, but Komozi Woodard, a historian at Sarah Lawrence College, insists they were very much a “power couple” and that Graham Du Bois was Du Bois’ equal in many ways.