Christian to George Schuyler

Christian to George Schuyler


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Letters from the

Archives of Marcus Bruce Christian

From & To Friends, Colleagues, & Wife


Books by Marcus Bruce Christian

Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo / High Ground: A Collection of Poems  / Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans

I am New Orleans: A Poem / Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /  The Liberty Monument

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Books by George Schuyler

Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia  / Black No More  /  Ethiopian Stories  /  The Communist Conspiracy Against the Negroes

Black and Conservative

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Letter 10

Christian Complains about Schuyler 

Critique of the State of Black Letters

March Twenty-sixth 1937


Mr. George S. Schuyler

2628 Center Avenue

Pittsburgh, Pa.


Dear Mr. Schuyler:

I have been reading with such interest your late articles on the encouragement of Negro literature. I do not expect to find that you have ever heard of me or my poetry. I have done quite a bit of verse for the newspapers and magazines, among which the CRISIS, THE PITTSBURGH Courier, OPPORTUNITY, and THE LOUISIANA WEEKLY. I an sending you some of the best examples of my bad art. Please do not return or publish.

Your recent statements about ‘getting things started’ in the COURIER of March 27, was — to me — slightly reminiscent of the old colored lady who told the street-car conductor, “Doncha run way frum me–Ah’ll pullya back evy time.” When she laid her hands on the car and it stopped suddenly, she thought that she had stopped it.

By referring to the files of THE LOUISIANA WEEKLY, of March 26, 1932, you will find that there was a meeting of persons interested in poetry, at 2500 Palmyra St. Shortly following this meeting, I was among those who, went to Mr. C.C. Dejoie, the president, and asked that space be allowed us in his columns. From that time onward, there has been a POET’S CORNER in the paper, and from this beginning, some of us have made the better newspapers and magazines of our race–as well as a few publications among the whites.

By referring to the WEEKLY of November 26, 1936, you will find the announcement of a cash award to be given for the best poem published in the paper during the first quarter of 1937.

The judges will be Miss Bower of Gilbert Academy, Prof. Edmonds of Dillard University, and Prof. Rousseve of Xavier University. For the award which will be very soon, we are planning a poetry recital at the home of the editor, Miss Brown, at which Lyle Saxon has promised to present the award, and at which Dean Bond has promised to speak. We are also planning a mimeographed booklet, containing a dozen or so of the best poems, to be presented to those present.

What I was thinking was that, it was not so much that you are ‘getting things started’ as that many of your readers are ‘getting you told’. However, such a revelation would not be necessary if the American Negroes had five magazines like OPPORTUNITY, and five editors like ELMER ANDERSON CARTER. You may notice that OPPORTUNITY carried two poems of mine during 1933–BEAUTY AND BEASTS  and CLOWN AND KING–that decried that our poetic currency should carry on one side the face of a grinning Negro. In spite of the fact that he went out of his way to encourage me, I always thought that it was extremely unfortunate that Langston Hughes went away to Russia before he learned how to sing A NEW SONG.

I am at present connected with the Negro History Group at Dillard University, which is directed by Dean Horace Mann Bond and Lyle Saxon, State Administrator of the Federal Writers Project. My assignment is relative to the free people of color in Louisiana. I’d like to tell you something about the culture of this free Negro group. Dr. DuBois made mention of a book of poetry written by them, called LES CENELLES, in 1845. I shall soon be doing a chapter on Negro literature in Louisiana prior to Reconstruction, and if possible, may send you a copy.

I think that one of the best things your column can do is to encourage poetry and art atmosphere among our entire race, and the need of a greater cohesiveness between sectional groups. Being poetry editor of the WEEKLY for only this short time during the contest has been proof to me that we have many rhymesters–and also a few decent poets. What I also think is that someone must throw down the challenge to the educated man–point out to him that though it is true — perhaps — that ‘great poets are born’, it is also possible to make near-great poets through a little necessary encouragement.

Please pardon this letter, Mr. Schuyler, and please forgive the poetry. I shall do better some day. 


Marcus Christian 

314 S. Rocheblave St.

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George Schuyler (1895-1977), born in Providence , Rhode island, enlisted with the United States Army in 1912 and worked his way to the rank of lieutenant.

After the First World war Schuyler moved to New York City where he worked as a laborer and later as a journalist on The Messenger in 1923. For awhile a member of the socialist Party, Schuyler contributed to a wide variety of radical journals including Opportunity, Crisis, and Nation.

Schuyler eventually became associate editor of the Pittsburgh Courier. He supplied the weekly paper with a regular column and was one of its chief editorial writers. On one assignment he took the Jim Crow tour of the Southern states. books written by Schuyler include The Negro Art Hokum (1926), Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia (1930) and Black No More (1931).

During the McCarthy era Schuyler moved sharply to the right and contributed to American Opinion, the journal of the John Birch Society. In 1947 Schuyler published The Communist Conspiracy Against the Negroes. Black and Conservative (1966), his autobiography, was published in 1966. George Schuyler died in 1977.


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Black and Conservative: The Autobiography of George S. Schuyler  / Robert A. Hill, ed. Ethiopian Stories. Northeastern University Press, 1996

Jeffrey B. Leak ed. Rac(E)Ing to the Right: Selected Essays of George S. Schuyler. University of Tennessee Press, 2001

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Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes

Memories of Marcus B. Christian (CainsChristian’s BioBibliographical Record    Introduction to I AM NEW ORLEANS 

A Theory of a Black Aesthetic   Magpies, Goddesses, & Black Male Identity

Activist Works on Next Level of Change   Intro to I Am New Orleans   Letter from Dillard University

A Labor of Genuine Love  Letter of Gift of Photos   Letters from LSU and Skip Gates

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Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900

By Marcus Bruce Christian


Study of the blacksmith tradition and New Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.

Acclaimed during his life as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican’s Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest publications.

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 17 April 2010 




Home     Marcus Bruce Christian  Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes    I Am New Orleans Table (Poems)   Fifty Influential Figures

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