Only Grandchild of Civil Rights Icon Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois Dies at 89

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Dr. Yolande Du Bois Irwin and her grandfather, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois in 1959.Dr. Yolande Du Bois Irwin and her grandfather, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois in 1959.Dr. Yolande Du Bois Irvin, the only grandchild of civil rights icon Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, died recently in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was 89 years old.

Irvin, who followed in the footsteps of her grandfather and family, became a professor of psychology in 1988 at Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black college and university (HBCU). She dedicated her life to education, civil rights, empathy and community. She participated in multiple civil rights forums and anniversaries, including the 90th and 100th celebration of the Niagara Movement, that was founded by her grandfather in 1906.

Jeffrey Peck, the youngest of Irvin’s four children, said that his mother was a free spirit who liked fast cars and laughter.

“She loved people, genuinely, genuinely,” Peck told The Berkshire Eagle.  “And people tended to gravitate toward her.”

“Her life's work was to help guide young people and help influence them to reach their dreams,” said Peck. “She purposely wanted to teach at a predominantly African American school so she could continue on with what her grandfather had started.”

A celebration of her life will be held by the W. E. B. Du Bois Legacy Committee in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on February 23, 2022, the 153rd birthday of Du Bois.