The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

Paperback | December 22, 2015

byMary Helen Washington

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Mary Helen Washington recovers the vital role of 1950s leftist politics in the works and lives of modern African American writers and artists. While most histories of McCarthyism focus on the devastation of the blacklist and the intersection of leftist politics and American culture, few include the activities of radical writers and artists from the Black Popular Front. Washington's work incorporates these black intellectuals back into our understanding of mid-twentieth-century African American literature and art and expands our understanding of the creative ferment energizing all of America during this period.

Mary Helen Washington reads four representative writers-Lloyd Brown, Frank London Brown, Alice Childress, and Gwendolyn Brooks-and surveys the work of the visual artist Charles White. She traces resonances of leftist ideas and activism in their artistic achievements and follows their balanced critique of the mainstream liberal and conservative political and literary spheres. Her study recounts the targeting of African American as well as white writers during the McCarthy era, reconstructs the events of the 1959 Black Writers' Conference in New York, and argues for the ongoing influence of the Black Popular Front decades after it folded. Defining the contours of a distinctly black modernism and its far-ranging radicalization of American politics and culture, Washington fundamentally reorients scholarship on African American and Cold War literature and life.

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Mary Helen Washington recovers the vital role of 1950s leftist politics in the works and lives of modern African American writers and artists. While most histories of McCarthyism focus on the devastation of the blacklist and the intersection of leftist politics and American culture, few include the activities of radical writers and ar...

Mary Helen Washington is a professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is the editor of Black-Eyed Susans: Classic Stories by Black Women Writers; Midnight Birds: Stories of Contempora...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:December 22, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023115271X

ISBN - 13:9780231152716

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsList of AbbreviationsIntroduction1. Lloyd Brown: Black Fire in the Cold War2. Charles White: "Robeson with a Brush and Pencil"3. Alice Childress: Black, Red, and Feminist4. When Gwendolyn Brooks Wore Red5. Frank London Brown: The End of the Black Cultural Front and the Turn Toward Civil Rights6. 1959: Spycraft and the Black Literary LeftEpilogue: The Example of Julian MayfieldNotesWorks CitedIndex

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An extraordinary piece of scholarly research and cultural commentary.