A look at George Schuyler, a forgotten black conservative, one of the most prolific editorialists, black or white, that twentieth century America has ever produced. George Schuyler was quite possibly among the greatest editorialists that America ever produced.
Born in 1895 in Rhode Island, Schuyler lived in Syracuse, New York, with his family until he was old enough to enlist in the United States Army. Upon the completion of World War I, he returned to civilian life, taking up residence in Harlem, where he remained until his death in 1977. It was during the decade of the 1920s when, from a thirst for intellectual stimulation rather than the appeal of its ideas, Schuyler joined the Socialist Party and began to travel within circles that would subsequently be identified with “the Harlem Renaissance.” It was also during this decade that he began establishing for himself quite the reputation as a writer. Throughout his life, in addition to authoring what has been called the first black science fiction novel, Black No More, Schuyler wrote as well for a plethora of other publications, black and white, including American Mercury, founded and edited by H.L. Mencken, the largest of literary giants of that time. Schuyler was a tireless champion for racial equality and a vehement opponent of communism. From 1922 until 1964, he was the editor for the Pittsburg Courier, the largest black newspaper publication in the country. In 1966, Schuyler composed his autobiography, Black and Conservative.
In spite of the distinction that he enjoyed during his time — even the black leftist academic, Cornel West, acknowledges that Schuyler’s autobiography is a “minor classic” in “African-American letters” — Schuyler has been all but forgotten. This, though, is a phenomenon that has been brought about by design. Schuyler, you see, is ideologically inconvenient, for with the greatest of ease, and with equally great frequency, he routinely shattered the ideas that have by now become integral components of the zeitgeist.
In other words, Schuyler is as Politically Incorrect a figure as any. And he is Politically Incorrect because he was a black conservative who routinely took to task those of his contemporaries who our generation has long since deemed unassailable.
Though Schuyler never spared an occasion to decry the injustices to which whites subjected his fellow blacks, he was equally unsparing in his criticism of the immoral conduct of the latter.
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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)