Yolande Du Bois Irvin, the sole grandchild of W.E.B. Du Bois, a Pan-Africanist scholar, and civil rights fighter, has died. In Fort Collins, Colorado, the veteran educator, who took on a life role identical to her grandfather’s, died this month. She was 89 years old at the time.
According to the Berkshire Eagle, Du Bois Irvin will be buried with her mother and other family members in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where their grandpa was born. According to the publication, Du Bois Irvin dedicated her life to civil rights, empathy, and community. Jeffrey Peck, her youngest child, described her as a “free spirit.”
Peck disclosed that his family plans to commemorate his mother’s life and legacy in the historic town in February 2022, which coincides with his great-grandfather’s birthday, February 23, 1868. Before being cremated, Du Bois Irvin requested that her body be used for medical study, according to Peck.
Her bones would later be interred at the Mahaiwe Cemetery, where a gravestone would be erected in her honor, according to her son. Many members of the Du Bois family are buried there, including the famed historian’s 2-year-old son Burghardt, who was laid to rest there for the first time in 1899.
Nina Gomer Du Bois, his first wife, was buried there in 1950. Nina Yolande Du Bois, Du Bois Irvin’s mother, and only daughter would be buried in the same cemetery.
Du Bois scholar, family biographer, and friend Dr. MaryNell Morgan-Brown provided insight into Du Bois Irvin’s life, including his attendance at the International Youth Conference in Germany. The scholar’s travels around the world aided in the development of a philosophy she frequently espoused, which argued for the necessity of travel and its function in education. It exposes a person to the parallels that exist across civilizations and ethnicities.
As a psychology instructor at Xavier University of Louisiana, she was supposedly awarded the “Best Teacher Award” in 1989. “Her life’s job was to help advise young people and persuade them to achieve their aspirations,” Peck added.
“She wanted to teach at a predominantly African-American school so she could carry on what her grandfather had started,” he stated. She would encourage young people that if they put their minds to it and put in the effort, they could achieve everything they wanted, and she would help shape them to attain those goals.”
Nina Irvin, Arthur McFarlane II, and Jeffrey Peck are her children, as well as five grandkids and four great-grandchildren, Skylar Young, Lloyd Richardson II, Summer Young, and Kai Delatorre. She is predeceased by her son Mark Adam Peck; her stepson, Andre Peck; and her husband, Howard Irvin.