I reviewed Brian Dolinar’s Black Cultural Front: Black Writers and Artists of the Depression Generation for the Graduate Center Advocate. With chapters on the National Negro Congress, Langston Hughes, Chester Himes, and the cartoonist Ollie Harrington, Dolinar makes the case that the black cultural front (and its antiracist, left politics) established in the 1930s continued on into the 1940s and 50s. This argument is in contrast to an idea of a 1930s cultural front that was coterminous with the Popular Front.
One small detail from the book that has stuck with me is that the artist Elizabeth Catlett taught a class on “How to Make a Dress” at the George Washington Carver community school in Harlem in the 1940s. The book was full of threads that I want to research further, like the Carver community school (Gwendolyn Bennett was also involved and taught black history), Karamu House in Cleveland, and Jo Sinclair’s unpublished WPA writing.
Read the full review here.