George S. Schuyler: A Name Not Heard During Black History Month

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
02/07/2013
       
George S. Schuyler: A Name Not Heard During Black History Month

Black History Month is here. Familiar names will be bandied about. Sadly, but, given the ideologically charged nature of these four weeks, all too predictably, the name of George S. Schuyler is one that you can bet you will not hear springing from anyone’s lips.

Black History Month is here. Familiar names will be bandied about. Sadly, but, given the ideologically charged nature of these four weeks, all too predictably, the name of George S. Schuyler is one that you can bet you will not hear springing from anyone's lips.

The reason is simple: Schuyler, in spite of being one of the most incisive and compelling popular writers of the 20th century, wasn’t just black; he was black and conservative.

Born in 1895 in upstate New York, Schuyler would eventually become associated with “the Harlem Renaissance.” And from the 1920s through the 1960s, he wrote and edited the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the largest black newspaper publications in the country.

Besides being an ardent anti-communist, Schuyler also had little good to say about those of his contemporaries who led the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Although he had been a tireless champion of racial equality all of his life, he regarded the plans of the civil rights activists as inimical to liberty.

For instance, while it was still a bill in Congress, Schuyler argued powerfully against what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schuyler readily conceded that the white majority’s attitude toward the black minority was “morally wrong, nonsensical, unfair, un-Christian and cruelly unjust.” Still, because “it remain[ed] the majority attitude,” the federal Civil Rights law would be but “another typically American attempt to use the force of law to compel the public to drastically change.”

“New countries,” Schuyler observed, “have a passion for novelty, and a country like America, which grew out of conquest, immigration, revolution and civil war, is prone to speed social change by law, or try to do so, on the assumption that by such legerdemain it is possible to make people better by force.” (Emphasis in original.)

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