Lecture Explores Paradoxes and Struggles of 1940s Black Liberals

Lawrence Jackson will present "Black Liberals in the 1940s: The Unfulfilled Goals of Ralph Ellison, J. Saunders Redding and Horace Cayton Jr." Thursday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library at Willamette University. Jackson teaches English and African-American Studies at Emory University and is the author of the biography, Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius.

"Ralph Ellison's 1952 Invisible Man is one of the great American novels of the 20th century," said Frann Michel, associate professor of English at Willamette. This complex, comic and surreal story takes its narrator from south to north and from innocence to experience, she said. "Drawing on folklore and preaching, blues and jazz, the novel explores American history, literature and modernity."

J. Saunders Redding wrote detailed portraits of black life in America. Redding joined the faculty at Brown University in 1949, becoming the first African American professor at an Ivy League university. His book, On Being a Negro in America, was praised as "one of the most effective statements ... of the constant conflict experienced by the Negro between his reactions as a normal human being and those which life in America requires of him."

Horace Cayton Jr. was a black slave who eventually became publisher of the Seattle Republican newspaper. He later worked as a political reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information call Frann Michel at 503-370-6389 or Thabiti Lewis at 503-370-6233.