There is much that can be said about William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963). He was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and Pan-Africanist. You can read more about his life’s work here and here.
What I will say about Du Bois is that his writings have opened me up to a world I never really knew. Whether it is The Souls of Black Folk, Black Reconstruction in America, or his short stories and essays, Du Bois has something to say to us today. It’s what makes this prayer a powerful expression of resilient faith. His time, context, and work made him acutely aware of his need for grace for the moment. We need grace for ours.
Now to his prayer.
Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of [other’s] mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us–the freedom of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty–all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant us, O God the spirit of esther, that we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish. Amen.