Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987) was a central figure in the black press, working as reporter and editor for theAtlanta World, theAssociated Negro Press, theChicago Star, and theHonolulu Record.Writings of Frank Marshall Davispresents a selection of Davis's nonfiction, providing an unprecedented insight into one journalist's ability to reset the terms of public conversation and frame the news to open up debate among African Americans and all Americans.
During the middle of the twentieth century, Davis set forth a radical vision that challenged the status quo. His commentary on race relations, music, literature, and American culture was precise, impassioned, and engaged. At the height of World War II, Davis boldly questioned the nature of America's potential postwar relations and what they meant for African Americans and the nation. His work challenged the usefulness of race as a social construct, and he eventually disavowed the idea of race altogether. Throughout his career, he championed the struggles of African Americans for equal rights and laboring people seeking fair wages and other benefits.
In his reviews on music, he argued that blues and jazz were responses to social conditions and served as weapons of racial integration. His book reviews complemented his radical vision by commenting on how literature reshapes one's understanding of the world. Even his travel writings on Hawaii called for cultural pluralism and tolerance for racial and economic difference. Writings of Frank Marshall Davis reveals a writer in touch with the most salient issues defining his era and his desire to insert them into the public sphere. John Edgar Tidwell provides an introduction and contextual notes on each major subject area Davis explored.
John Edgar Tidwell is an associate professor of English at the University of Kansas. He edited Frank Marshall Davis'sLivin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black JournalistandPoet and his Black Moods: Collected Poems.
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