Back in 1900, Activist W. E. B. Du Bois was Using Infographics to Challenge White Supremacy

The creation of the charts was a collaborative process with a team of students and alumni from historically black Atlanta University. Together, they compiled data from records such as the United States census and research by Du Bois’ sociological laboratory, looking into subjects like the income and expenditure of black families, property ownership and the number of African American businessmen, teachers and black-owned media organisations. Although data visualisation techniques like bar and pie charts date back to the 1700s and 1800s, Du Bois used many experimental chart forms, and played with visualisation techniques to make an impact. “He used a spiral shape several times in place of a straight bar, to emphasise figures so large that they couldn’t fit onto the page – this was not conventional practice,” says Katie. “The charts were also very modern in their use of colour. We still get a sense of their vibrancy over a century later.” Sadly, the direct impact of the exhibit was limited, and despite Du Bois receiving a gold medal for his role as collaborator and compiler of materials for the exhibit, the white American press did not report on the exhibition. Not one to give up the fight, just three years later Du Bois published his masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk. Katie says: “Perhaps it was frustration at the lack of impact seen from his sociological approach that led him to appeal in a different way, one which resonated with people across the world.” Alongside the charts by Du Bois and his team, The Guardian’s data editor Mona Chalabi has created original artworks for the exhibition, which will run until 1 March 2020. These new works will explore Du Bois’ clean lines, interesting use of shapes and bold primary colours, updating them for the 21st Century and showing the continued relevance of both Du Bois’ methods and, sadly, his fight against white supremacy. URL Out – https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/w-e-b-du-bois-charting-black-lives-house-of-illustration-131119Author – www.itsnicethat.comDate – 2019-11-13 21:49:44

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