Political activist, playwright, novelist, and composer Shirley Graham Du Bois produced many works of great cultural importance. Although she is most widely remembered for her literary work, which has started to make its way into the cultural landscape via its inclusion in school and university reading lists, Du Bois's work went far beyond her writing.
She devoted her life to standing up against injustice, and speaking out for the underprivileged. Her experience as an African-American woman in early 20th century America, and her upbringing in the church, inspired her to fight for racial equality wherever she could.
One of the first works that Du Bois ever completed was her epic opera Tom-Tom: An Epic of Music and The Negro. Across its three acts, the story follows the people of a West African village as they are abducted from their homes, forced into slavery, and then liberated to restart life in Harlem. In opened in 1932 to an audience of 25,000 people over just two performances, and subsequently went into obscurity, despite Du Bois making every effort to have her work staged again.
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