The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois
Publication Year: 2000
One of the most intriguing activists and artists of the twentieth century, Shirley Graham Du Bois also remains one of the least studied and understood. In Race Woman, Gerald Horne draws a revealing portrait of this controvertial figure who championed the civil rights movement in America, the liberation struggles in Africa and the socialist struggles in Maoist China. Through careful analysis and use of personal correspondence, interviews, and previously unexamined documents, Horne explores her work as a Harlem Renaissance playwright, biographer, composer, teacher, novelist, Left political activist, advisor and inspiration, who was a powerful historical actor.
Published by: NYU Press
Download PDF (31.5 KB)
This book had its origins in a chance encounter on a mid-Manhattan street in the late summer of 1993. I had just left the offices of the radio station WBAI when I bumped into David Du Bois, whom I had known as a result of my earlier research on the life of W. E. B. Du Bois. As we...
Download PDF (77.2 KB)
Shirley Graham Du Bois was born in the United States in 1896 and died in China in 1977. During her event-filled life, this diminutive, light brown–skinned woman with a broad gray streak in her hair was variously a composer, playwright, actress, drummer, biographer, editor...
Download PDF (100.0 KB)
IT WAS THE first Saturday of April 1977 in Beijing, China. The auditorium at the Paposhan Cemetery for Revolutionaries was full. The vicepremier, Chen Yung-kuei, and the widow of former premier Zhou Enlai were among the dignitaries present. The Communist Party...
Chapter 1: Family
Download PDF (75.9 KB)
SHE WAS BORN Lola Shirley Graham on 11 November 1896, but at points in her life she shaved as much as ten years from her true age.1 The place where she was born, Indianapolis, Indiana, at that time was not the most hospitable place for African Americans. Jim Crow...
Chapter 2: On Her Journey Now
Download PDF (89.8 KB)
HER SON DAVID described Shirley Graham Du Bois as “demonstrative” and “vindictive” as well as “impulsive.”1 This last term best describes her departure from New York City in December 1926 on a ship for Paris, leaving her children behind. Fortuitously, her strict father was...
Chapter 3: The Middle of Her Journey
Download PDF (88.0 KB)
BY THE MID-1930s Shirley Graham was in a sense part of the highest echelon among African Americans: she held two degrees from Oberlin and was rapidly gaining a sterling reputation as a creative artist. This high standing was to bring her a preeminent role in the newly formed...
Chapter 4: Crossroads
Download PDF (112.3 KB)
WHEN ONE OF her favorite professors at Yale returned to Great Britain, Graham abandoned graduate school and returned to Indiana.1 Professor Allardyce Nicol “took more personal interest in what I was trying to do because I am a Negro”—which was the exact opposite of...
Chapter 5: Shirley Graham Du Bois
Download PDF (93.8 KB)
AS THE RED SCARE was dawning in the late 1940s, Shirley Graham found herself uncomfortably close to the main target of this crusade: the Communist Party. The proximity inevitably left her singed and scorched. She was a closeted Communist, but that deliberate disguise...
Chapter 6: Home
Download PDF (84.2 KB)
SHIRLEY GRAHAM AND W. E. B. Du Bois married twice in 1951. They were planning to be married on 27 February at her Queens home, but he was indicted on 9 February because of his peace activism. She “insisted that we be married before his arraignment,” but “he didn’t want...
Chapter 7: On the Road Again
Download PDF (98.3 KB)
BY THE TIME her passport was renewed in 1958, Shirley Graham Du Bois was more than ready to leave the United States for an extended period. She and her husband were revered abroad with the same fervor with which they were vilified at home. Moreover, though she had first...
Chapter 8: Mother, Africa
Download PDF (105.6 KB)
WHEN DU BOIS DIED, his spouse was enervated, but only momentarily. Shorn of the role of caretaker for the first time in years, she quickly plunged into a swirl of activity, principally as a confidante and leading advisor to Nkrumah. In fact, the rapid resumption of work...
Chapter 9: Detour
Download PDF (96.9 KB)
ON 24 FEBRUARY 1966 , while Nkrumah was on his way to Hanoi in an effort to broker peace between the United States and Vietnam, he was overthrown by his military. The coup in Ghana was a decisive turning point in the life of Shirley Graham Du Bois, ranking with the death...
Chapter 10: Black, to the Left
Download PDF (114.2 KB)
SHIRLEY GRAHAM DU BOIS began her career as a musician, playwright, and author of biographies that had huge appeal for young adults. She moved to the left during World War II, when Moscow was Washington’s ally, and became friendly with Communists like Howard...
Chapter 11: The End of Her Journey
Download PDF (99.6 KB)
BY 1970 SHIRLEY Graham Du Bois was almost seventy-five years old; still spry, she had become an inveterate world traveler, journeying from her home in Cairo to Guinea, Tanzania, China, and points in between. However, she was still not welcome in the United States, the nation...
Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2000