On Thursday, February 22, 1996, novelist, literary historian, and political activist Lloyd L. Brown was invited to the University of Maryland at College Park as a Black History Month speaker. Brown, whose 1951 novel Iron City has been seen as a revolutionary response to Richard Wright's Native Son, addressed "Race and the Un‑American Renaissance: Rethinking Cold War Cultural History."
Born in 1911 in St. Paul, Minn., Brown became active in the Young Communist League (YCL) in 1929, the year of the Stock Market Crash and the onset of the Great Depression. He visited the Soviet Union in 1933‑34 and moved to the East Coast to work as an organizer for the Congress of Industrial Organizations in Pittsburgh. During World War II, he served for three years in a segregated squadron of the Army Air Corps.
In his work as a novelist and essayist, Brown was a major radical voice in the 1950s when the House Un‑American Activities Committee was actively prosecuting individuals with suspected communist ties. He challenged members of the African‑American community to adopt a more militant stand against the oppressive racism of the time, while also attacking widespread class oppression. His literary criticism at this time strongly challenged the work of writers such as Wright, Chester Himes and Ralph Ellison, which Brown felt demonized African Americans in order to communicate their message regarding the effects of racism.
Brown's novel Iron City is based upon his experiences when imprisoned in Pittsburgh because of his work as a union organizer there. The novel depicts three African-American communists, in jail because of their political activities, who work to help free a fellow inmate who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The novel is a scathing account of the injustices of racism and political intolerance, and shows how, through the work of the imprisoned communists, collective political action can effect social change.
Iron City was originally published by Masses and Mainstream, a Communist journal, and went through three printings despite being sold only through direct marketing and word of mouth. Although it was praised and compared to the work of authors such as Langston Hughes, Iron City never received wide public support and was out of print for more than forty years until it was reissued in 1994 by Northeastern University Press.
Brown continued his work in revolutionary politics through the 1940s, during which time he became the managing editor of the Communist Party weekly New Masses and associate editor of Masses and Mainstream. After leaving the Communist Party in 1952, he worked with singer, actor, writer, and pro‑Communist activist Paul Robeson, writing speeches and columns, and assisting Robeson with his book, Here I Stand. Brown's latest book, to be published this fall, is a biography of Robeson.
This interview with Brown took place in College Park on Friday, February 22. Brown was interviewed by Mary Helen Washington, a professor of African American literature in the English Department of the University of Maryland who is currently writing a book on black writers and the left, "Radical Integration: African American Writing, Music, and Dance in the 1950s."
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: I know you as a political activist and a writer. Are those two roles compatible? How have you managed to integrate them?
LLOYD L. BROWN: I think that being a radical activist obviously influenced my writing. The things that I thought were good would be expressed as good in my writing, things that I thought were evil—in other words, I never wrote anything other than what I believe in. I couldn't possibly, let's say write something for a publication that I didn't believe in. So, whatever I wrote, in that respect, I was a free man. I wrote what I felt and what I thought. And in that respect I think I was in a tradition of literature going way back, certainly, let's say, to Mark Twain [and] Thoreau in this country, Emerson, and in England, let's say Dickens. Dickens was a reformer . . . Hugo was a reformer. He hated oppression and [in] anything he wrote . . . his feelings about society came out. He didn't do it intentionally. Let's say Harriet Beecher Stowe—hers was a propaganda piece. She wanted to appeal to people's sentiments. She did it and of course very successfully—it was a best‑seller in America. But that was a little different, that was almost like a pamphlet in a sense. It was not really a creative piece of work. She didn't know what she was writing about—she didn't know the slaves. It was all make‑believe, but effective. Like a soap opera in a sense, in literature. But other writers wrote actually how they felt. You can tell how they felt by what they wrote about. So that's where I feel my views; I think I feel the same, I belong to the same group as let's say Shelley. He felt that way, he wrote that way, I belong to his party. I belong to Robert Burns, ‘a man's a man for all that and what the world will be like when man to man the world shall brothers be’ as far as I'm concerned. As far as I'm concerned, he was a communist in the sense that I think of that term. Not as a narrow political movement.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: So you don't feel as though being a communist dominated your writing or forced you to write certain kinds of things, forced you to write 'politically correct' for a party member?
LLOYD L. BROWN: No, it's quite the opposite.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: Because that is one of the things that Richard Wright said, that he had to leave the communist party because he felt they were trying to coerce him into writing certain things.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Yes, well, no I never felt any pressure to write in a certain way. No one told me what to write and sometimes I even sort of wrote against the stream. For example, I wrote an article called "Words and White Chauvinism." In that article I was attacking something that was going on in the communist movement: The branding of people for so‑called racist words which were not racist at all. For instance, the word "black" was a bad word . . . to everyone in the communist movement and among our own people far as that goes. "You black so‑and‑so." Right? Alright, so now they had this big drive on against white chauvinism, like a witch‑hunt, and people were being brought up on charges and expelled. One case, a person referred to somebody as having "African features" and was expelled. They didn't use the word racist; they used the term white chauvinist. So I attacked that. My editor was very worried when I wrote that piece.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: Did you write that piece for Masses and Mainstream?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Masses and Mainstream I prefaced it and I covered myself by showing that there are racist words. In fact my very first line was 'Jim Crow is a talking bird.' And then I go on to show how words are a part of racism, how racism is expressed in words. But then I went into another area in which I discussed the concept of light and dark as ancient, and as natural, as day and night. And to say the word 'dark' is racist, as compared to 'light.' I gave an example from the Negro National Anthem: 'Out of our dark past'—that's slavery, right—'toward the rising sun of our new day begun.' It's a concept, it has nothing to do with race. It's a universal. But in the left wing there was that extreme. We've had it lately in this 'political correctness.' You know, I said somebody's handicapped. 'Oh why did you say they're handicapped?' Because they are. They said, 'You can't say that, you have to say 'movement deprived' or . . .
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: Or disabled or physically challenged.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Jeez, something. But I'm saying it's my meaning, don't attack me for what I'm saying. Think of the meaning of it. I gave examples of black. I said we've got a paper called The Black Dispatch. Well, if a person can be expelled for using the word black talking about black people, how can you explain a newspaper The Black Dispatch? We've got it. So I had a big attack on this, now they were worried about should they print that or not. Is this against the party line? So, I wasn't going to withdraw it and if they hadn't printed it I would have left because Id never met that situation before where something that I’d write now has to be taken up with officials. So they sent me up to Harlem. [Doxie] Wilkerson was then the editor of The People's Voice, after Adam Powell. So [Doxie] was embarrassed for me. He said, 'Oh Lord, you, really?' I said, 'they want you to okay this.' So he did and it was printed and then people thought it was wonderful. And then later on the chairman of the party commended me for writing that piece.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: So essentially what you said in the piece was that what they were calling racism was not necessarily racism.
LLOYD L. BROWN: That's right. For instance, some . . .
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: So you were attacking their attack on white chauvinism.
LLOYD L. BROWN: That's right. On the grounds that it was . . . that you're not hitting the enemy. You're battling now ‘words.’ You're making your fellow traveler's words—his words—to attack him. But he's on your side.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: But what about legitimate forms of white racism in the party?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Oh, [there] was no argument about that. That was consistently attacked. In other words, any instances that I ever saw or heard of were absolutely barred, I'd say from about 1930. When I first joined there were some old people, one of them was named Mother Bloor and she was talking about the Gastonia strike in North Carolina and she says, 'they have [palegra] down there,'—malnutrition—'they have [palegra],' and she says, ‘and not just the little . . . the nigger children, but the white children too suffer from that.’ And this was [laughs] at a meeting.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: She actually used that term at a meeting?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Yeah, at a public meeting and I was the speaker at the meeting. In fact I was the chairman of this open‑air rally. She was speaking on behalf of the Gastonia strikers. A friend of mine who was there, he still remembers it. I walked out. I said, ‘I'm going home. I'm not going to have anything to do with people who use that kind of word around me.’ So I was on my way out and Gil Green come running after me and brought her to apologize. And she was old then.
And when she was in her 90s she saw me one time and she said to me, 'Oh yes,' she says, 'I remember you,' she says, 'I recruited you in Minnesota.' She remembered the incident. But naturally she's denied in her mind what happened. She was an old socialist. And the socialists were not at all conscious of this 'Negro question.' . . . They were workers and that's all. But they would, a guy like Debs, a wonderful human being, a great leader, but he would tell jokes about a darkie preacher just like any white man of his time would. But he was no different than the Democrats on that. The communists had to learn better than that.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: How, why? Why did they learn better?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Well they learned better because they began to get the idea that blacks are not just to be considered workers, they've got an extra oppression on them. It's the result of slavery which still persists. And in fact, not only that, but you have to look at them like a repressed national minority. As distinct with rights of their own, even and including the right of setting up their own homeland. This is a concept I never believed in, but this was a belief. In other words, that in the Black Belt you would have self-determination for the Black Belt. They could determine how they lived the same as any other people. They could remain a part of the country if they want, they could be separate if they want, but it's up to them. They have the right to determine what they're going to be.
And so as a national minority, you have to recognize them as a national minority. Therefore, you have to have special demands for them. Equal wages is not good enough for them, because everybody knows they are not included in 'equal.' Therefore you've got to make special demands all the time. You've got to think of things that apply specifically to blacks. So they did adopt this. And then they did start expelling people.
There was a famous case, in the early 1930s. It was a Finnish club house in Harlem. Finnish workers all. And this particular communist a Finn. Couldn't speak English hardly at all. They had a swimming pool and he objected to black party members coming in and using the swimming pool. He said, 'That's wrong' [laughs]. That's what he thought. So they had a big trial. Public trial, was in the newspaper, they put him on trial and they expelled him, took action against him, he apologized. And they gave him certain, let's say like community work to do, to learn better and to make up for it.
So that particular trial—it was in about 1930—somebody once said that that trial alerted the party so that in 1931 [and] the Scottsboro case, they immediately reacted to that. Saving the boys made an international human cry about it. So that educated a lot of the whites as to what are the conditions of the South—the white members.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: As you know the re‑publication of your 1951 novel Iron City is stimulating new discussion of that text as an example of resistance to Cold War ideologies. Tell me what motivated you to write such a novel in the midst of Cold War hostilities when you knew almost certainly that its politics would be rejected.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Oh I thought about it for years and years. And, don't forget, the experience was in 1941. And then I thought about the experience all that time—until I starting writing it. I took a leave of absence from my job in 19. . .50, I guess, to write it. It was published in '51. I took off for a year. Scrounged up the money—I didn't have any advance. And just decided I'm going to write this story but I wouldn't have been able to write it had I not learned how to write. I had the feeling. I had the idea. But I did not know how to write. I learned to write by being an editor and working on the magazine with men who were highly competent writers and editors and when I would write something they would go over and show me, 'Boy this is no good, that's no good, this is junk, this is a cliche' and I began to feel that writing a cliche, you know, was like committing a crime [laughs]. I’d better not use any, you know, cliches. Dead against that.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: One of the most powerful aspects of Iron City is its collective protagonist—the three men, Faulcon, Paul, and Zach—constitute the main narrative point of view. Tell me how you came to create these characters.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Two of them are close to being what I described them and that's Zach and Faulcon. Zach was Mac McCullough, a southern fireman who came north, a steelworker. And Zach, as I depicted him, you'd think he's a deacon in a church. Very straight, respectful, you'd never use a bad word in his presence. He was appalled at the language he heard, he said, 'These people are ignorant.' Anyway, so he's a real person and Henry Faulcon, his name was William Thornton. He's a real guy, his philosophy, his ideas, his being a race man at all times. He had a theory—I didn't use it in the book—he had a theory that the strength of our people came from black‑eyed peas. And he wrote and published a poem. He wrote from the jail, and published a poem in The Daily Worker, I should get it some time, called "Ode to the Black‑eyed Pea" in which he's exalting our strength.
But he was, as I said, a communist and a race man at the same time. To him both went together; he wanted his people to be equal, but at the same time he liked them the way they were. He felt that they were better in so many ways, their lives were richer, they were juicier, they had . . . he liked them, he liked everything about them better than he did white people. He felt that white people had to learn to relax and be more like Negroes [laughs]. So he was absolute.
Now, the other one, Paul Harper, is a mixture of maybe two or three people. Physically, he is exactly, well, he did look like this Willy Jones. Same height, age, color and so on. But he was very much like a young man named James Ashford who died young. A kid from Arkansas. A young communist leader who conceived the idea of the Southern Negro Youth Congress. And he says there was a white one, American Youth Congress, a very broad organization that the young communists were active in. But he said that we've gotta have one for our people in the South. And so he conceived the idea, he raised money for it, he got me to write a call for the founding convention of it. This was a forerunner of the later student movement and, uh, he did conceive it. He was a brilliant organizer; too much of a ladies' man. Very popular with women, girls. Anyway, so he, I would think, he was mostly this character.
Partly my experiences came in because I was the head of the inside committee and my wife was the contact. So that aspect of the story was me; also the activity that was done outside was me—like the campaign for the teachers, the campaign to get into swimming pools—the local issues that we were fighting on, those were things that I’d been involved in.
But mostly the character of Harper comes from this friend of mine, James Ashford. I once was upset because Freedomways published an article which didn't mention Ashford in it. Now, Ashford's dead and gone. I don't like the idea that somebody's dead and gone and then you don't remember what they did. I like to be a witness to that. So I wrote an article for Freedomways telling about the role that James Ashford played in this idea of having a Southern Negro Youth Congress. Now, when he did that, that went against the grain of many white radicals who couldn't see the idea, 'why do you need a separate youth organization in the South?' But he fought for it, I backed him up on that, so did another guy named Ed Strong, a young black communist came out of Chicago, a preacher's son. He was a big shot in the American Youth Congress but he supported this idea that we've got to have a black one in the South. And so that was built, they had a convention in Richmond. DuBois spoke at the founding convention in Richmond that was established, I forget the year. So this guy Ashford, he was the brains, he was a great organizer, so I was thinking of him more than anybody in the character of Harper; but obviously in terms of the background, imagination comes in as to . . . let's say Zach as a fireman. I brought in the campaign to kill the fireman through him. This incident of the shooting hadn't happened to him but a lot worse . . . and somehow nobody seemed to notice that during the De . . . it was during the Depression, you see—and the whites wanted those jobs. They hadn't had them ever since the Civil War.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: Now, you know, one of the things, now that I've taught this book a couple times, that always intrigues me is that it's such a religious book. I don't know if you were aware of that, it was a highly religious book. For example, Zach's time in solitary confinement—like Christ in the tomb—because the prelude to redemptive acts. One of the other prisoners, as a result of Zach's sacrifice, is motivated to help smuggle out a letter, so that Zach's suffering becomes redemptive, as all suffering does in the text.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Yes. His resistance inspires somebody to resist who has no use for resistance at all. At first, Slim felt, "To Hell with you people! I'm going to learn Spanish and get out of this country. I don't want to be here!" So he had left the race, he had left everything but he sees what this guy has done. And that inspires him to smuggle the letter out.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: I'm wondering if you've ever thought about how religious this book [Brown’s novel Iron City] is despite the fact that you wrote it as a communist?
LLOYD L. BROWN: I tell you, that comes not from my own religiosity. I am not religious except culturally. Culturally I am in a sense and . . . if I am an Afro-American therefore I have to be moved by, let’s say gospel; when there's a gospel program on I tape it. I’m inspired by gospel. It moves me. And so it’s religious, but it is a humanistic religion. . .
I once discussed with Paul Robeson the song ‘Little Jesus Boy’ that Mahalia sings. ‘They didn’t know who you are, they treated you like they treat me’ is in the song—she humanizes Jesus. Makes him like one of us. One of our own people, she makes him. So it is, in that respect, the Afro‑American religion is very earthy, it’s down‑to‑earth. It’s very real. And therefore if I’m trying to write how they are I have to have them come into it. The role of the preacher in this thing, who became the head of the committee, the church, well that was his role, you see. Rev. Bruford. So, to me, you cannot write about our people and leave out their spirituality. To me, I see it as cultural rather than ideological.
I think of it as, well, like in the ‘spiritual.’ See now some of the Reds used to say that they weren’t spiritual; that they meant ‘follow the drinking gourd’ means escape—they made everything into ‘practical’; ‘steal away to Jesus’ that meant escape from slavery. I said, No, no, they’re talking about both. They’re talking about stealing away. Yes. But they’re also, they’re also looking to heaven because they don’t have anything here. It’s not just the North. They’re going to have to . . . get away! To get on board. ‘Come on children, there’s room for many or more.’ The escape was a big part of it, but it was both spiritual and, and that’s what made it so good. Because it was not, you know, some abstract hymn. This was their own lives they were talking about, they were singing about their own lives, that’s what gave them.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: As I'm listening to you, it seems so easy to be radical to accept radicalism. But I'm thinking about how difficult it was to be a radical in the 1950s when the government responded with such repression and there was such outlawing and discrediting of radicalism. What gave you permission to go against the status quo, against the government, to go against everything that would have made you a more acceptable person in this country? What allowed you to take on that position that, that in so many ways made you a non‑acceptable person in this society?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Because, from my childhood, the injustices that I saw in childhood. A child can see things better than most people can; they know right from wrong, they see it. I saw hunger, I suffered hunger, but I saw other people suffering from hunger. I saw what racism was. I thought that this society was rotten. And nobody taught me that. I just saw it. And that, I must not ever become a part of this evil thing. I must be different. If everybody's going to be that way I'm gonna be something different, I'm not gonna be like that.
In grade school they told us about this Sir Philip Sydney, a noble man, I think he was a boyfriend of the Queen of England, he was wounded and dying on the battlefield and there was a soldier there—an ordinary little guy—and they brought Sir Philip some water and he says 'No, give it to him, his need is greater than mine.' So I thought to myself 'That's cool, that's beautiful. That's, that's . . . that's what I call a good person. See, here's a noble man.'
So then later on I read something Fred Douglass said and it thrills me 'cause I'd been believing that for a long time where he said that about this state of things, 'What man can look upon this state of things and not resolve to cast his influence with those elements that are going to come down and dash this state of things to atoms!' That's what he said about the slaves. 'What man can look upon this and not resolve to do this all.' But I had done that, you see, already, as a child. I came to that thought. That you can't, you just can't turn away, you've got to be involved; so when I met some people when I was sixteen years old who seemed to have that idea, believe that idea, they were young communists—I joined right up with them. But I was already radicalized by life. Life.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: When you joined the Communist Party was it considered as threatening and subversive as it became during the 1950s?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Well, it was not popular, but it wasn't considered significant until the Depression. The Depression came, the party grew enormously. Started leading masses of people. Huge—tens of thousands of people at demonstrations and hunger marches. But still they weren't considered a menace, really, generally speaking, so it was later on, when Russia became a super‑power, then things changed. When Russia was poor and broke and so on it didn't matter what, what you were, but once they became a super power then they're the enemy therefore the people who share their ideas are enemies too.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: You know, it's interesting that here you are working in the Communist Party and I'm assuming working in a very integrated community of people and yet you write a book in which the only two significant white characters, or maybe three, are Crazy Peterson . . . Winkle . . . Cox . . . And that's it. The two lawyers and the crazy man are the two representatives of white . . .
LLOYD L. BROWN: Because the others, the others are not on the scene. Except, the guards are there. The chief guard, and the yard guards, they're all there. But the others, I deliberately did not include any. I could have had some of them be in the same group, on the same tier if I wanted to, you see? But it would have been impossible for me to do what I wanted to do because I wanted my story to be black resistance. The blacks are being oppressed. But the main thing of it is the resistance. Under any circumstances you have to resist.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: So you keep your white characters, the ones who are supporting this resistance movement, off on the margins, but they're there.
LLOYD L. BROWN: Yes, but I was criticized for that by communists. They did feel that 'Well Lloyd, you know, you've got this, it's fine, but aren't you now lending yourself to some kind of a nationalism where you're separating yourself from the Communist Party?' I said, 'Well I'm just making it out to be what it is in life. That's how it is in life. Now we, as an organization, we're not characteristic of life. We are integrated, we are interracial, but that's not the way life is. That's not the country.' So, if I was going to write about America they way we are, then it would be utterly sectarian. There wouldn't be any real people in it. Because we're not real people in that sense of, we're like any sect that lives off by themselves somewhere, no relation to the rest of the world, eat certain food, practice a certain customs. But I said, 'We are different from everybody else. True! But, I said, ‘I can't write about the real world and make the real world like us that way where it doesn't make any difference what color you are, this or that!’
Because, see, in the movement I frequently held positions of leadership over whites and nobody thought anything strange about that. When I was district organizer of the Young Communist League in Pittsburgh or in Connecticut all the, everybody, all the others were whites. That was considered perfectly normal. When I was the editor of The Young Worker, the weekly newspaper of the Young Communist League, I was the chief editor, I was a Negro first (because we were having a lot of those in those days) but it was perfectly acceptable, my race was never discriminated against. In fact, sometimes even unworthy blacks were appointed to positions, which I objected to as paternalistic. ‘He can't speak—we'll write his speech for him. He's got this or that, maybe he drinks too much—we'll overlook it for him because, you know, he's black and we've got to make allowances’ I didn't like that.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: Well, were you saying something with Crazy Peterson being the only white man in the text who really is unconscious of color?
LLOYD L. BROWN: Racism is irrational. He is irrational. He is, he is by our standards irrational. But he does not accept in his irrationality our irrationality, society's irrationality. He doesn't understand and Lonnie is even upset with him that he doesn't understand the difference, what difference the skin color makes. But in that respect, Crazy Peterson, is actually . . . innocent of racism. He's like a four year old kid, he plays with another kid, he doesn't know the color of this other kid. Children are innocent when it comes to that because they haven't yet learned. They see, they're bright, they understand everything but they don't understand racial differences until they learn it some . . . some kind of way; it's not natural.
So Crazy Peterson served me in that respect just to make that point—and also, I wanted to have somebody explain who these Reds are in the book. I didn't want to do it as the author. I like it to come out of the action. In other words, so Lonnie tells Peterson about these Reds. He says, ‘you didn't hear about them? They tried to overthrow the government. They didn't get away with it.’ It doesn't bother him that they didn't. But he tells Peterson that that's what they're in there for, they tried to overthrow the government. So that gave me a chance to tell, and in this distorted way that the public knew it, through Lonnie what they were in jail for. Later on you might find out that's not what they were in jail for but he believes it. So he explains it.
I learned this from Chekhov, Chekhov's notebooks. He says, 'Don't say that the moon, that when you went out in the garden the moon was shining,' say, ‘A piece of glass reflected the moonlight.’ Now you know, if you say the moonlight was shining you really don't know whether it is or not. But if it's reflected off a piece of glass then the reader says, ‘Of course.’ He accepts the fact that there is a moonlight. See, I learned that, that's one of the things I learned from reading and from Chekhov's "Notes of a Writer" on how do you convey a thought, try to connect, rather than just say 'it's a dark moonlit night' you show it. If it wasn't a moonlit night then there wouldn't be any moonlight shining off a piece of glass, right? So that was, that's what I tried to do throughout without making statements.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: I wanted you to say something about Faulcon's speech at the end because I see that as really the end of the text. The most dramatic and powerful scene is the one Faulcon creates in his utopian vision of the world. And you don't end with Lonnie's execution.
LLOYD L. BROWN: No, because I want to show the struggle goes on. In other words, it is true, that in this case it ended that way. But since it's a systemic problem, it can't be resolved.
MARY HELEN WASHINGTON: It ends with this vision that's not in the jail even though men are still in prison at the end of the novel.
LLOYD L. BROWN: That's right. That, that's his idea of the future. This is an Afro-American communist's idea of what he's fighting for. That's the kind of world that he wants. That he wants, he wants his world, and you notice he plays the leading role in it.
I mean, he's the main speaker, and he calls upon the preacher to hit the book. And it's not the preacher, it's, who is it? John Henry comes in. All of his heroes are part of his story because this is an Afro‑American view of Iron City, and he assumes charge. And he tells the people where to sit, he moves the rich white folks out of there, because he believes they should be. He tells the people to come together, but he doesn't want his people to get lost. And he doesn't like the exclusion of the women in the whole thing. So this is really his idea of the new day, and of course when that great day comes Zach is going to be driving his locomotive all across America and all America is going to be saying 'Hooray.' Zach, what does he do, he's driving a locomotive, free; liberation, in that image, has come; equality, he's achieved it, he's made it. How'd he make it—he's not president but he's driving this engine . . .
SOURCE: “Lloyd L. Brown Talks to Mary Helen Washington: Writing the Collective Narrative (Route One Interview),” Route One [University of Maryland, College Park], vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1996, pp. 64-78.
African American / Black Autodidacticism, Education, Intellectual Life (Bibliography in Progress)
Richard Wright Study Guide
Black Studies, Music, America vs Europe Study Guide
Black / African-American / African Atheism (part of atheism web guide)
Black Freethinkers & Other Intellectuals (external links)
Marx and Marxism Web Guide
de Frateco" [Bonds of Brotherhood]
by Paul Robeson, translated by R. Dumain
L. Brown on black cultural religiosity
(excerpt from this interview)
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