A writer perhaps best known for the revolutionary works Black Boy and Native Son, Richard Wright also worked as a journalist during one of the most explosive periods of the 20th century. From 1937 to 1938, Wright turned out more than two hundred articles for the Daily Worker, the newspaper that served as the voice of the American Communist Party. Byline, Richard Wright assembles more than one hundred of those articles plus two of Wright’s essays from New Masses, revealing to readers the early work of an American icon.
As both reporter and Harlem bureau chief, Wright covered most of the major and minor events, personalities, and issues percolating through the local, national, and global scenes in the late 1930s. Because the Daily Worker wasn’t a mainstream paper, editors gave Wright free rein to cover the stories he wanted, and he tackled issues that no one else covered. Although his peers criticized his journalistic writing, these articles offer revealing portraits of Depression-era America rendered in solid, vivid prose.
Featuring Earle V. Bryant’s informative, detailed introduction and commentary contextualizing the compiled articles, Byline, Richard Wright provides insight into the man before he achieved fame as a novelist, short story writer, and internationally recognized voice of social protest. This collection opens new territory in Wright studies, and fans of Wright’s novels will delight in discovering the lost material of this literary great.
Lester A. Walton was a well-known public figure in his day. An African American journalist, cultural critic, diplomat, and political activist, he was an adviser to presidents and industrialists in a career that spanned the first six decades of the twentieth century. He was a steadfast champion of democracy and lived to see the passage of major civil rights legislation. But one word best describes Walton today: forgotten.
Exploring the contours of this extraordinary life, Susan Curtis seeks to discover why our collective memory of Walton has failed. In a unique narrative of historical research, she recounts a fifteen-year journey, from the streets of Harlem and “The Ville” in St. Louis to scattered archives and obscure public records, as she uncovers the mysterious circumstances surrounding Walton’s disappearance from national consciousness. And despite numerous roadblocks and dead ends in her quest, she tells how she came to know this emblematic citizen of the American Century in surprising ways.
In this unconventional book—a postmodern ghost story, an unprecedented experiment in life-writing—Curtis shares her discoveries as a researcher. Relating her frustrating search through long-overlooked documents to discover this forgotten man, she offers insight into how America’s obsession with race has made Walton’s story unwelcome. She explores the treachery, duplicity, and archival accidents that transformed a man dedicated to the fulfillment of American democracy into a shadowy figure.
Combining anecdotal memories with the investigative instincts of the historian, Curtis embraces the subjectivity of her research to show that what a society forgets or suppresses is just as important as what it includes in its history. Colored Memories is a highly original work that not only introduces readers to a once-influential figure but also invites us to reconsider how we view, understand, and preserve the past.
E. James West's fresh and fascinating exploration of Ebony’s political, social, and historical content illuminates the intellectual role of the iconic magazine and its contribution to African American scholarship. He also uncovers a paradox. Though Ebony provided Bennett with space to promote a militant reading of black history and protest, the magazine’s status as a consumer publication helped to mediate its representation of African American identity in both past and present.
Mixing biography, cultural history, and popular memory, West restores Ebony and Bennett to their rightful place in African American intellectual, commercial, and political history.
Frank Marshall Davis was a prominent poet, journalist, jazz critic, and civil rights activist on the Chicago and Atlanta scene from the 1920s through 1940s. He was an intimate of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright and an influential editor at the Chicago Evening Bulletin, the Chicago Whip, the Chicago Star, and the Atlanta World. He renounced his writing career in 1948 and moved to Hawaii, forgotten until the Black Arts Movement rediscovered him in the 1960s.
Because of his early self-exile from the literary limelight, Davis's life and work have been shrouded in mystery. Livin' the Blues offers us a chance to rediscover this talented poet and writer and stands as an important example of black autobiography, similar in form, style, and message to those of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.
"Both a social commentary and intellectual exploration into African American life in the twentieth century."—Charles Vincent, Atlanta History
In Word Warrior, award-winning radio producer Sonja D. Williams draws on archives and hard-to-access family records, as well as interviews with family and colleagues like Studs Terkel and Toni Morrison, to illuminate Durham's astounding career. Durham paved the way for black journalists as a dramatist and a star investigative reporter and editor for the pioneering black newspapers the Chicago Defender and Muhammed Speaks. Talented and versatile, he also created the acclaimed radio series Destination Freedom and Here Comes Tomorrow and wrote for popular radio fare like The Lone Ranger. Incredibly, his energies extended still further--to community and labor organizing, advising Chicago mayoral hopeful Harold Washington, and mentoring generations of activists.
Incisive and in-depth, Word Warrior tells the story of a tireless champion of African American freedom, equality, and justice during an epoch that forever changed a nation.
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