Dubois thought the main problem of America was the problem of race. As a matter of fact, he referred to it as the "race problem." In the beginning of his prominence, he believed that the talented tenth could lead the African American population to social equality, armed only with education and righteousness. He thought that this would solve the race problem. Later he realized that dealing with racism also meant taking a stand against the often-violent forms of oppression practiced by white America. Self-defense and agitation, which included everyone as opposed to ten percent, became Dubois's position on how to deal with problems of race.
W.E.B. Dubois thought that a black person could never have just one identity. African Americans are neither simply black, nor simply American, but both. He explains this by pointing out that African Americans don't have the privilege of defining themselves by what they perceive themselves to be, which is most likely American. African Americans have long been thought of and reveled by what the white people of America thought of them, which is most likely African, savage, and foreign. This has given the African American people the long and virtually impossible task of being able to discover their own identity, all the while they can't search for their identity with their own eyes. What many black people think makes them who they are, is actually programmed into their minds by society.
W.EB. Dubois had a major role in the opposition to Booker T. Washington. Washington's theory about how to gain equality was built upon developing a strong labor force. This included being educated in only skilled trades as opposed to pursuing more intellectually demanding curricula. According to him, civil rights including the right to vote were not important in the short-term push for equality. Washington's approach was much to passive for Dubois, who led the Niagara movement in 1905 to oppose the ideals of Washington and to advocate public agitation for the rights of African Americans.