Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

Black Conservatives

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George S. Schuyler

George S. Schuyler. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust.

In 1966 George S. Schuyler published his autobiography, Black and Conservative. By that time, the former Harlem Renaissance literary star had certainly lived up to his self-designation, having spent the better part of his life denouncing communism and mocking his left-leaning contemporaries. Included among them were W. E. B. Du Bois, whom he satirized as an opportunist in the 1931 novel Black No More, and Langston Hughes, target of his 1926 essay for The Nation "The Negro-Art Hokum," a jeremiad against exceptionalist claims on African American art. A onetime socialist, Schuyler grew progressively more disenchanted with African American leadership, and, after denouncing Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964, accelerated his own marginalization. Conservatives believe Schuyler—once referred to as "the black [H. L.] Mencken"— suffered for his unorthodox opinions; in a 2000 article for the Hoover Institution, one of the United States' most prominent conservative think tanks, fellow Michael Judge writes "even in a culture whose media and publishing are dominated by liberal elites, it's remarkable how completely Schuyler's name has disappeared from history."

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