Dr. Shirley Graham DuBois

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Dr. Lola Shirley DuBois (Graham)

Also Known As: "McCants"
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, United States
Death: March 27, 1977 (80)
Beijing, Beijing, China (complications of breast cancer)
Place of Burial: Cantonments, Accra Metropolis District, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
Immediate Family:

Daughter of David Andrew Graham and Lizzie Etta Graham
Wife of W. E. B. Du Bois, Civil Rights Activist
Ex-wife of Shadrach McCants
Mother of Private; Private; Private; Robert McCants and David McCants
Sister of Lorenz Bell Graham

Occupation: author, playwright, composer, and activist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Dr. Shirley Graham DuBois


Shirley Graham Du Bois (November 11, 1896 – March 27, 1977) was an American award-winning author, playwright, composer, and activist for African-American and other causes. In later life she married the noted thinker, writer, and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. The couple became citizens of Ghana in 1961 after they emigrating to that country. She won the Messner and the Anisfield-Wolf prizes for her works.

She was born Lola Shirley Graham in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1896, as the only daughter among six children. Her father was an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and the family moved often. In June 1915, Shirley graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington.[1]

She married her first husband, Shadrach T. McCants, in 1921. Their son Robert was born in 1923, followed by David in 1925. They divorced in 1927. In 1926, Graham moved to Paris, France to study music composition at the Sorbonne. She thought that this education might allow her to achieve better employment and be able to better support her children. Meeting Africans and Afro-Caribbean people in Paris introduced her to new music and cultures.

In 1931, Graham entered Oberlin College as an advanced student and, after earning her B.A. in 1934, went on to do graduate work in music, completing a master's degree in 1935. [2] In 1936, Hallie Flanagan appointed Graham director of the Chicago Negro Unit of the Federal Theater Project, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. She wrote musical scores, directed, and did additional associated work.[2]

In the late 1940s, Graham became a member of Sojourners for Truth and Justice – an African-American organization working for global women's liberation.[1] Around the same time, she joined the American Communist Party.[1]

She and Du Bois married in 1951, the second marriage for both. She was 54 years old; he was 83. They later emigrated to Ghana, where they received citizenship in 1961 and he died in 1963. In 1967, she was forced to leave after a military-led coup d'état, and moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she continued writing. Her surviving son David Graham Du Bois accompanied her and worked as a journalist.[citation needed]

Shirley Graham Du Bois died of breast cancer on March 27, 1977, aged 80, in Beijing, China, where she had gone for treatment


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Dr. Shirley Graham DuBois's Timeline

November 11, 1896
Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana, United States
March 27, 1977
Age 80
Beijing, Beijing, China