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May 18, 2017 | History

George Samuel Schuyler

25 Feb 1895 - 31 Aug 1977

(1895–1977), satirist, critic, and journalist. George Samuel Schuyler was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to Eliza Jane Fischer and George S. Schuyler. He grew up in a middle-class, racially mixed neighborhood in Syracuse, New York, where he attended public schools until he enlisted in the army at the age of seventeen. He spent seven years (1912–1919) with the black 25th U.S. Infantry and was discharged as a first lieutenant.

From early on, Schuyler possessed a high level of confidence and boasted of his family having been free as far back as the Revolutionary War. In 1921, Schuyler joined the Socialist Party of America, through which he connected with A. Philip Randolph, who hired him in 1923 as assistant editor for the Messenger; in that position, from 1923 to 1928, Schuyler also wrote a column entitled “Shafts and Darts: A Page of Calumny and Satire.” In 1924, Schuyler became the New York correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier, contributing a weekly commentary, “Views and Reviews.” Schuyler led several investigative series while with the Courier, including one entitled “Aframerican Today,” reporting on race relations in Mississippi in 1925–1926. In 1926, his article “The Negro-Art Hokum,” published in the Nation, propelled him into the middle of the literary debate of the Harlem Renaissance. While Schuyler was concerned with race difference always being interpreted as inferiority and was trying to refute negative stereotypes, his statement in that essay, “the Aframerican is merely a lampblacked Anglo-Saxon,” caused him to be labeled as an assimilationist throughout his career. In 1927, “Our White Folks” was published in H. L. Mencken's American Mercury; from this, Schuyler's reputation grew and Mencken published nine more of Schuyler's articles between 1927 and 1933.

By the end of the 1920s, Schuyler began to acquire a national reputation as an iconoclast; despite his constant attacks on white racism, his commitment to exposing fraud, regardless of race, caused some African Americans to doubt his racial loyalty. In 1928, Schuyler married Josephine Cogdell, a white Texan ex-model.

In 1931, Schuyler published his first satirical novel, Black No More, Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free. The bulk of Schuyler's reputation rests on the success of this novel, which attacks myths of racial purity and white supremacy and the ways in which the perpetuation of racism serves economic purposes. Also in 1931, Schuyler became the first African American writer to serve as a foreign correspondent for a metropolitan newspaper, when the New York Evening Post sent him to assess the controversy of Liberia's slave labor. The articles were condemned by Marcus Garvey supporters, but based on the experience he published Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia (1931).

Schuyler also had several literary alter egos. Between 1933 and 1939, he produced fifty-four short stories and twenty novels/novellas in serialized form under such pen names as Samuel I. Brooks and Rachel Call. Until recently, scholars paid no attention to this body of work and Schuyler's own attitude toward his serialized fiction ranged from amusement to disdain. The freedom of a pen name allowed him to explore melodrama, and in contrast to the audience for his satirical essays and his novel, Black No More, Schuyler wrote his serialized fiction for an exclusively African American audience. To date, four of his serialized novels have been reprinted into two volumes: Black Empire (1991) and Ethiopian Stories (1995). Black Empire explores the success of the retaking of Africa from European colonial powers; Ethiopian Stories explores Ethiopia's wars against Italian occupation.

Schuyler continued his career as a journalist until 1966, when he published his autobiography, Black and Conservative, which gives an inside track to the feuds among the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as a lo

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History Created April 1, 2008 · 6 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

May 18, 2017 Edited by Clean Up Bot merge authors
March 31, 2017 Edited by Clean Up Bot add VIAF and wikidata ID
August 21, 2014 Edited by Mitzi huddleston Edited without comment.
August 21, 2014 Edited by Mitzi huddleston Edited without comment.
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import