Damele wrote a new post, Response to Maxwell’s “Total Literary Awareness” by Damele E. Collier, on the site Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication 2 weeks, 1 day ago
In “Total Literary Awareness: How the FBI Pre-read African American Writing,” I found William J. Maxwell’s description of the “machinery of political repression” intriguing. It seems this machine could identify […]
HI Damele, Thanks for this. You write: “While the FBI could surveil, and perhaps delay publications, they could neither suppress Black intellectual thought, nor eradicate Black writers and their works. ” I think this came through strikingly not only in Maxwell’s essay but in Prof Eversley’s lecture–the persistence of these writers, against odds, is both infuriating (that they had to work against such obstacles) and inspiring (even in the worst situations, great artists prevailed). Heroes!
I found this piece on the Total Literary Awareness campaign and their acts of censorship to be it fascinating. As you mention, The FBI Nobody Knows was originally rejected by Random House due to a copy being forwarded to Hoover. The FBI was so invested in its public image as a force of good in society, that any publications that contradicted with that image – whether true or false – were censored. The anti-black undertones to this suppression are also significant, as noted throughout the article.