“In 1950, [Du Bois] ran on the Labor party ticket for the U.S. Senate,,, a sure sign of his closer relations with the Communist party. The following February, Du Bois’ peace information center, which had disbanded four months earlier, was indicted by a grand jury in Washington, D.C., for ‘failure to register as agent for a foreign principal.’ At the age of eighty-four and after over half a century in pursuit of individuality and democracy in America and abroad, Du Bois was an indicted criminal, handcuffed and facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
‘I have faced during my life many unpleasant experiences; the growl of a mob; the personal threat of murder; the scowling distaste of an audience. But nothing has cowed me as that day, November 8, 1951, when I took my seat in a Washington courtroom as an indicted criminal.’
The widespread vilification of Du Bois as a Russian agent in the press—both white and Black—left him virtually alone with leftist friends and some Black loyal supporters in McCarthyite America. But support overflowed from overseas. And although the government could not prove ‘subversion’ against him (or his colleagues at the peace center). the stigma stuck for the general populace. He was refused the right to travel abroad and to speak on university campuses (and at local NAACP branches!), his manuscripts were turned down by reputable publishers and his mail was tampered with.
‘It was a bitter experience and I bowed before the storm, But I did not break…I found new friends and lived in a wider world than ever before—a world with no color line. I lost my leadership of my race…the colored children ceased to hear my name.’
Six years later Du Bois’ request for a passport was finally granted (owing to a Supreme Court ruling). He traveled abroad for nearly a year to China, France, England, Sweden Germany, Russia, and Czechoslovakia. In 1961, Kwame Nkrumah invited Du Bois to Ghana to begin work on the Encyclopedia Africana, a project Du Bois had proposed in 1909. Du Bois accepted, but before he left for Ghana he joined the Communist Party, U.S.A…A few weeks before he departed for Ghana, Du Bois wrote to a friend:
‘I just cannot take any more of this country’s treatment. We leave for Ghana October 5th and I set no date for return…Chin up, and fight on, but realize that American Negroes can’t win.'”
Du Bois lived in Ghana until he died in 1963
Source: Cornel West, “W. E. B. Du Bois: ‘The Jamesian Organic Intellectual’, in “Race Matters” describing the indictment of W. E. B. Du Bois, 1992.