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The NAACP annually awards the Spingarn Medal to individuals who have contributed greatly to the African-American community. On this day in 1920, scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois became the sixth recipient of the coveted award for his work with the Pan-African Congress.

The Spingarn Medal was established in 1914 by then-Chairman J.E. Spingarn, and he personally gave out the award until his death in 1939. Du Bois, one of the early advocates of Pan-Africanism, established and called for the first of seven meetings of the Pan-African Congress to address the decolonization of Africa.

Du Bois attended five of the seven meetings; the final two occurred after his death. His leadership and conviction in raising awareness around the issue stands as one of the great leaders many notable accomplishments. Du Bois  organized the initial Congress alongside Ida Gibbs Hunt, the wife of U.S. Consul, William Henry Hunt. It was held in Paris in 1919.

The Congress concluded with a 1974 meeting in Dar Es Salaam, and a 1994 meeting in Kampala.

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