George Schuyler

Not many know that George Schuyler, the politically conservative African American journalist, traces his roots to New England. Born in Providence on February 25, 1895, he and his parents soon thereafter moved to Syracuse, New York, where he spent the remainder of his childhood and adolescence. His served in the still segregated armed forces for seven years after graduating from high school, during which he wrote for The Service and thus developed the writing skills that would eventually shape him into a an established journalist. Schuyler briefly returned to Syracuse as a manual laborer but his ultimate destination after leaving the army was New York City. However, his short stay in Syracuse is important because it is during this time that he joined the Socialist Party and adopted political leanings that he would come to staunchly renounce later in his life.

During this time Schuyler also started writing for newspapers like The Messenger and The Pittsburgh Courier. His left wing politics were discernible through his contribution to socialist periodicals like The Nation and his membership in the black socialist group Friends of Negro Freedom. His contribution to numerous journals also defined him as a successful freelance writer. He would go on to author several books, including his first published piece Black No More. Aside from a career in journalism, Schuyler also engaged in community activism: for instance, he joined the NAACP in the 1930s.

The communist political sentiment that once defined Schuyler’s early career gradually became the object of his condemnation, which would eventually mold him into a conservative critic of many aspects of the Civil Rights Movement (e.g. mass protests and marches, tactics which he perceived as communist). This change in politics not only materialized in his choice of journals to contribute to—like Plain Talk—but also in his participation in international anti-communist conferences such as the 1950 Congress of Cultural Freedom in Berlin. However, controversy did not surround Schuyler only because of his conservatism. His marriage in 1928 to Josephine E. Lewis, a white heiress from Texas, also caused quite a stir during a time when interracial marriage was socially unacceptable and illegal in many states.

Despite his controversial political sentiment and personal life, George Schuyler was a prolific journalist, author, and activist who wrote extensively on educational inequality between whites and blacks and whose work on racial injustice in general helped bring about the integration of the U.S. armed forces.

-written by Felicia Bevel