In the early twentieth century the term The Talented Tenth was assigned to a leadership class of descendants of Africans in America. W.E.B. Du Bois made the term popular when he wrote about it in an essay that he titled “The Talented Tenth” and published in 1903.

Brother Du Bois went on to use the term “the talented tenth” to describe the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders in the world, by continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change.

Some say that when the majority of the 1 out of 10 (of the talented 10th) from the community achieve success, they do not return to the community to give that talent back and reach down and pull up those in need…if a person from our community has been blessed with the opportunity to get the education and opportunity that most in the community do not, they should come back to the community to share that knowledge and success to those who never see individuals that look like the achieving in this manner.

Du Bois writes in his Talented Tenth essay that black Americans must develop “the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst.” Later in Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois re-articulates this notion. He writes that “my own panacea of earlier day was flight of class from mass through the development of the Talented Tenth; but the power of this aristocracy of talent was to lie in its knowledge and character, not in its wealth.”