Literary and International Representation of the New Negro Era
Publication Year: 2013
During the first generation of black participation in U.S. diplomacy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a vibrant community of African American writers and cultural figures worked as U.S. representatives abroad. Through the literary and diplomatic dossiers of figures such as Frederick Douglass, James Weldon Johnson, Archibald and Angelina Grimké, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida Gibbs Hunt, and Richard Wright, Brian Roberts shows how the intersection of black aesthetic trends and U.S. political culture both Americanized and internationalized the trope of the New Negro. This decades-long relationship began during the days of Reconstruction, and it flourished as U.S. presidents courted and rewarded their black voting constituencies by appointing black men as consuls and ministers to such locales as Liberia, Haiti, Madagascar, and Venezuela. These appointments changed the complexion of U.S. interactions with nations and colonies of color; in turn, state-sponsored black travel gave rise to literary works that imported international representation into New Negro discourse on aesthetics, race, and African American culture.
Beyond offering a narrative of the formative dialogue between black transnationalism and U.S. international diplomacy, Artistic Ambassadors also illuminates a broader literary culture that reached both black and white America as well as the black diaspora and the wider world of people of color. In light of the U.S. appointments of its first two black secretaries of state and the election of its first black president, this complex representational legacy has continued relevance to our understanding of current American internationalism.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I have written Artistic Ambassadors only by contracting large intellectual and personal debts. During the projectâ€™s early life, I found an unmatched mentor in Deborah McDowell, whose intellectual rigor and attention to detail have been inspiring. Conversations with her shaped the project and pushed Artistic Ambassadors in ways I could not have anticipated. ...
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Introduction: The Politics of New NegroLiterary Culture and the Cultureof US International Politics
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The end of the 1930s found African American writer Richard Wright conceiving of his literary predecessors via the trope of international diplomacy. In his famous 1937 essay â€śBlueprint for Negro Writing,â€ť he wrote, â€śGenerally speaking, Negro writing in the past has been conf_ined to . . . prim and decorous ambassadors who went a-begging to white ...
part iRepresentative Characters
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...wrest the role of black race representation from white America. legacies of the Old Negro, W.uni00A0E.uni00A0B. Duuni00A0Bois proposed the fol-the kind of people you know and like and imagineâ€ť (â€śCriteriaâ€ť plant â€śthe Negro painted by white Americans.â€ť The trope of the sophistication, educational attainment, middle-class poise, and ...
1 / The Negro Beat: “Distinguished Colored Men”and Their Representative Characters
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Frederick Douglass has been credited with many f_irsts, but when Presi-dent Benjamin Harrison appointed him US minister to Haiti in July 1889, he was by no means the f_irst black US diplomat. With African Ameri-cansâ€™ postbellum emergence as a voting constituency, US presidents and other officials looked for visible means of courting the so-called Negro ...
2 /Passing into Diplomacy: US ConsulJames Weldon Johnson and The Autobiographyof an Ex-Colored Man
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...preceded him as â€śprim and decorous ambassadorsâ€ť who â€ścurts[ied] to show that the Negro was . . . humanâ€ť (â€śBlueprintâ€ť 53), he took aim at the African American middle class (the college bred, the bourgeoisie, the talented tenth) who had worked, especially during the f_irst three decades of the twentieth century, as apparently self-appointed spokespersons for ...
part iiLost Theaters
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...generally, several recent studies in black transnationalism have with spaces beyond the United Statesâ€™ borders. Fittingly, schol-ars oriented toward the New Negroâ€™s transnational circuits have found a sort of favorite son in Jamaican American writer Claude McKay and a touchstone text in McKayâ€™s 1929 novel Banjo, which ...
3 /Diplomatic and Modern Representations:George Washington Ellis, Henry Francis Downing, and the Myth of Africa
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In 1913, the year James Weldon Johnson resigned his Nicaraguan con-sulship, ex-diplomat George Washington Ellis responded to a friendâ€™s request for a letter treating the topic of â€śthe Negro in the American Foreign Service.â€ť Ellis pointed to Johnson and others to suggest that â€śthe Negro official . . . holds a number of dignif_ied and desirable consul-...
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...collection Simpleâ€™s Uncle Sam, Hughes presents readers with a how best to â€śtake up the international situation.â€ť â€śI would call all the big heads of state of the world.â€ť Simpleâ€™s interlocutor replies, â€śI gather you would . . . become a diplomat.â€ť But Simple retorts, â€śA hip-to-mat, . . . minding everybodyâ€™s business but my ...
5 /Diplomats but Ersatz: The Hip-to-maticPan-Africanism of W. E. B. Du Boisand Ida Gibbs Hunt
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Because Langston Hughesâ€™s archetypal hip-to-mat is the organizer of a â€śSummit Meeting,â€ť hip-to-macy emerges as an apt trope through which to interrogate the international and representational questions surrounding a series of landmark summitsâ€”the meetings held by the Pan-African Congress (PAC) in 1919 and the 1920s. Within the context ...
6 /The Practice of Hip-to-macy in the Ageof Public Diplomacy: Richard Wright’s Indonesian Travels
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During James Weldon Johnsonâ€™s early twentieth-century work in Ven-ezuela, he added a new dimension to his role as a consul. His primary duties involved aiding US sailors and facilitating trade between Venezu-ela and US wholesale houses, but on his own initiative, he helped orga-nize two Venezuelan baseball clubs. In some ways, organizing baseball ...
Epilogue: Hipster Diplomacy’s Falland Barack Obama’s Forms of Things Unknown
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In 2002, as President George W. Bush moved toward authorizing the US invasion of Iraq, Jamaican American calypso singer and political activist Harry Belafonte took aim at the black members of Bushâ€™s inner circle. In an interview with San Diego radio station KFMB, Belafonte of_fered an incisive description of the f_irst black US secretary of state: â€śIn the ...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013