, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 10–15 | Cite as

Ralph Ellison, Irving Howe and the Imagined Civil Rights Movement

  • Peter KurylaEmail author
50th Anniversary Issue: Past, Present, Future

In March of 1964, the novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren, then working on his essential and yet under-appreciated oral history Who Speaks for the Negro, interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. Warren was especially interested in where King thought things were headed. The Civil Rights Bill was then working its way to the Senate, and the major protests and marches of the previous year were memories of relatively recent vintage. So Warren asked King what the next phase of the movement would be. The civil rights leader observed that once desegregation by means of nonviolent direct action, the courts, and the legislative process was accomplished, the task of “actual integration” would have to begin.

To achieve “genuine inter-group, interpersonal living,” King surmised, Americans would have to “grapple” with the “methods” necessary to achieve a “thoroughly integrated society.” King pointed to the continuing social and economic disparities between white and black communities, and insisted that...


Black People Liberal Imagination Black Artist American Intellectual Black Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Further Reading

  1. Alexander, E. 1998. Irving Howe: Socialist, Critic, Jew (pp. 119–131). Bloomington: IUP.Google Scholar
  2. Ellison, R. 1963. The World and the Jug. New Leader, 46, 22–26.Google Scholar
  3. Ellison, R. 1964. A Rejoinder. New Leader, 47, 15–22.Google Scholar
  4. Ellison, R. 1995 [1952]. Invisible Man (p. 452). (New York: Vintage).Google Scholar
  5. Graham, M., & Singh, A. 1995. Conversations with Ralph Ellison (p. 36). Oxford: University of Mississippi Press.Google Scholar
  6. Howe, I. 1963. Black Boys and Native Sons. Dissent, 9, 353–368.Google Scholar
  7. Howe, I. 1964. A Reply to Ralph Ellison. New Leader, 47, 12–14.Google Scholar
  8. Howe, I. (New York, Methuen, 1979). “Black Boys and Native Sons,” in Twenty Five Years of Dissent: An American Tradition, 123.Google Scholar
  9. Pells, R. 1985. The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age: American Intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  10. Rampersad, A. 2008. Ralph Ellison: A Biography (p. 402). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  11. Scott, D. 1997. Contempt and Pity: Social Science and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996. Chapel Hill: North Carolina Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NashvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations