By Susan Curtis
Lester A. Walton was once an African American journalist, cultural critic, diplomat, and political activist--an adviser to presidents and industrialists in a occupation that spanned the 1st six a long time of the 20 th century. during this booklet, Curtis seeks to find why Walton is forgotten at the present time. during this unconventional book--a postmodern ghost tale, an unparalleled test in life-writing--Curtis relates her tricky seek via long-overlooked records to find this forgotten guy, providing perception into how America's obsession with race has made Walton's tale unwelcome. She explores the treachery, duplicity, and archival injuries that remodeled a guy devoted to the success of yank democracy right into a shadowy determine.
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Extra resources for Colored Memories: A Biographer's Quest for the Elusive Lester A. Walton
For a fuller analysis of this landmark performance and references to its signiﬁcance to two key African American intellectuals, see Curtis, First Black Actors on the Great White Way; W. E. B. Du Bois, The Gift of the Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America; and James Weldon Johnson, Black Manhattan. 24. “The ‘Colored Players,’” New York Age, April 12, 1917, 6, col. 1. 010 c1 (11-32) 4/28/08 4:32 PM Page 22 22 Encountering a Ghost Walton’s extensive commentary on the black actors’ performance expressed a wary hopefulness that Emilie Hapgood’s decision to produce the three plays would lead to a renewed commitment to enlist the stage in the campaign for political and social equality—wary, because the recent past had not been particularly good for African American performers.
Walton’s past lived on in new ventures, for he did not know when interest in one endeavor would wane, when another might open up new opportunities, or still some other project might ﬁnally bear fruit. To tell his life story as if it were a continuous, linear narrative would run counter to the powerful evidence of the archives and would miss the hopefulness that emanates from his papers. 2. , LAWPA, box 6, ﬁle 12; and Lester A. Walton to Walter M.
30 I had to know more. How had Walton 29. Steedman, Dust, 154. 30. Louis Filler, The Muckrakers: Crusaders for American Liberalism. Filler devoted a chapter, “Up from Slavery,” to post-Reconstruction conditions for African Americans. 010 c1 (11-32) 4/28/08 4:32 PM Page 25 Lester and Me 25 come to assume this position on the New York Age; what qualiﬁed him to impose his judgments on stage performance? How long had he remained on the scene, and had his later work moved in new critical directions?