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Journal ArticleDOI

Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red

20 Oct 2015-Modern Drama (University of Toronto Press)-Vol. 58, Iss: 4, pp 461-481
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors explore the influence of the Communist Party U.S.A. as a positive force in black theatre history and present specific ways in which Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play is indebted to Communist political critiques.
Abstract: “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” argues that, while anti-Communism has often been discussed by historiographers of African American theatre, Communism itself and the influence of the Communist Party U.S.A. as a positive force in black theatre history have largely been ignored. As a way of exploring the Communist influence on black theatre, the article describes specific ways in which Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play is indebted to Communist political critiques. Following the FBI’s own surveillance of the play before it came to Broadway, “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red” also uses the FBI’s own internal memos about the play’s Communist content to reassess the play’s political critique of American individualism, racism, sexism, and capitalism.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The subject of this annual bibliography is the scholarly literature of American Communism as discussed by the authors, which is broad in scope, containing many items that are either tangentia or tangent.
Abstract: The subject of this annual bibliography is the scholarly literature of American Communism. Readers will note that the bibliography is broad in scope, containing many items that are either tangentia...

35 citations

01 Jan 1997

29 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present a history in documents of Communism in America: A History in Documents, a collection of documents from the early 1970s to the present day, with a focus on the 1990s.
Abstract: (1997). Communism in America: A History in Documents. History: Reviews of New Books: Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 7-7.

13 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Maxwell's New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism Between the Wars is a closely argued, thoroughly researched attempt to show how this dominant narrative has often been misleading and reductive as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Maxwell, William J.1999. New Negro, Old Left AfricanAmerican Writing and Communism Between the Wars New York: Columbia University Press. $49.50 hc. $17.50 sc. 254 pp James Grove Mount Mercy College For the past fifty years, a powerful cultural narrative has defined how many readers approach and discuss the history of African-American writing during the critical junction between the First and Second World Wars. It tells the cautionary story of how the creative energy of the Harlem Renaissance was appropriated, undermined, and finally gutted when so many of its writers were idealistically drawn to the Communist Party, then smothered by its reductive proletarian dictates about art. This is a dramatic, alluring story of good versus evil-heightened by its rather clean separation of the Harlem Renaissance's glory days (now so often hallowed and mythologized) from the high time of American Communism (now so discredited and misunderstood). Populated by striking personalities and talents, the narrative is filled with tales of commitment, manipulation, and betrayal, of rebellion, resurrection and redemption-in short, an epic tale where the Marxist snake slyly enters Eden and does irreparable damage before being repudiated by so much of African-American literary history. William J. Maxwell's New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism Between the Wars is a closely argued, thoroughly researched attempt to show how this dominant narrative has often been misleading and reductive. Following the lead of revisionist critics such as Barbara Foley and James A. Miller, Maxwell wants us to rethink the "debilitating" premises behind the narrative: that there was a white communist "seduction and betrayal of black mouthpieces," and "that black intellectuals were incapable of transforming their party or their white radical counterparts, save through denunciations issued after escape" (5). By painstakingly revealing the constant reciprocity between African-American literature and the Communist Party during this time, Maxwell persuasively shows that these interracial exchanges occurred throughout the Harlem Renaissance. They, in fact, energized both sides to examine new ways to solve the race problem in the United States and did not evaporate in the more proletarian 1930's, even though black writers (most notably Claude McKay and Richard Wright) were gradually moving away from the party. In short, Maxwell argues for a history of "race-radical modernism" that resists the schematic attempts to make this radicalism a product fitting into an ideologically convenient anti-Communist lock-step (whether specific to race, gender, and/or politics). Maxwell's entry into this argument is through his close, Bourdieu-like consideration of the long forgotten Andy Rozof, black Bolshevik poet and Tin Pan Alley lyricist, whose career demonstrates how fertile the Old Left's intellectual practice was in "the full history of the renaissance cultural field" (59). Maxwell closely analyzes Rozof's unstudied poems (most notably the sonnet "Don't Tread on Me," convincingly seen as a powerful forerunner of Claude McKay's landmark cry for Negro selfdefense, "If I must Die") as well as his songs (especially Black and Blue played so famously by Louis Armstrong and by Ralph Ellison in the opening of Invisible Man). Maxwell also examines McKay's relationship to the Marxist publication The Crusader and his 1930% musical A Kitchen Mechanic's Revue, a rich mixture of proletarian themes and black folklore. …

9 citations

References
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Book
29 Dec 1999
TL;DR: Meyer et al. as mentioned in this paper examined the history of American race relations through the lens of housing discrimination and concluded that housing discrimination still exists, and this is only a clearer understanding of our shared racial past that will enable Americans to create a successful prescription for fighting intolerance.
Abstract: Despite the commonly held perception that most northern citizens embraced racial equality, As Long As They Don't Move Next Door graphically demonstrates the variety of methods-including violence and intimidation, unjust laws, restrictive covenants, discrimination by realtors and mortgage lenders, and white flight to suburban enclaves-used by whites to thwart the racial integration of their neighborhoods Author Stephen Grant Meyer offers the first full length national history of American race relations examined through the lens of housing discrimination, and he forces readers to confront and re-evaluate the deep and enduring division between the races Although this is a discomforting analysis, which concludes that housing discrimination still exists, it is only a clearer understanding of our shared racial past that will enable Americans to create a successful prescription for fighting intolerance An original and captivating study that illuminates overlooked groups and individuals committed to the national struggle for civil rights, this is important reading for anyone interested in African-American history

165 citations

Book
01 Jan 1983

162 citations

Book
15 Jul 1999
TL;DR: Black and Red All Over? as mentioned in this paper is a collection of essays about black and red all over America, focusing on the Black Belt/Black Folk: The End(s) of the Richard Wright--Zora Neale Hurston Debate.
Abstract: Introduction: Black and Red All Over?1. Kitchen Mechanics and Parlor Nationalists: Andy Razaf Black Bolshevism, and Harlem's Renaissance2. Home to Moscow: Claude McKay's The Negroes in America and the Race of Marxist Theory3. The Proletarian as New Negro the New Negro as Proletarian: Mike Gold Meets Claude McKay4. Scottsboro Delimited: White Bait Red Triangles, and Interracialism Between Men5. Black Belt/Black Folk: The End(s) of the Richard Wright--Zora Neale Hurston Debate6. Native Sons Divorce: A ConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

101 citations

Book
01 Jan 2001
TL;DR: The African-American Performance and Theater History as mentioned in this paper is an anthology of critical writings that explores the intersections of race, theatre, and performance in America, and analyzes how race has operated and continues to operate in American society.
Abstract: African-American Performance and Theater History is an anthology of critical writings that explores the intersections of race, theatre, and performance in America. Assembled by two of the most respected and prolific scholars in black theater and composed of essays from acknowledged authorities in the field (Joe Roach and Genevieve Fabre, among others), this volume is organized into four sections representative of the ways black theatre, drama, and performance past and present interact and enact continuous social, cultural, and political dialogues. The premise behind the book is that analysing African-American theatre and performance traditions offers insight into how race has operated and continues to operate in American society. The only one-volume collection of its kind, this volume is likely to become the central reference for those studying black theatre.

75 citations