Albert Murray, an essayist, critic and novelist who influenced the national debate on race by challenging black separatism, has passed away.
Lewis P. Jones, a family spokesman and executor of Mr. Murray’s estate, confirmed the death (on Sunday) to the New York Times. He was 97 years old.
Murray was one of the last surviving links to a period of flowering creativity and spreading ferment among the black intelligentsia in postwar America.
That was a time when the force of the civil rights movement gave rise to new thought about black identity, political power and the prospects for equality.
As blacks and whites clashed in the streets, black integrationists and nationalists dueled in the academy and in their books and essays as well.
Murray was in the middle of the debate, along with writers and artists including James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Romare Bearden and his good friend Ralph Ellison.
One of his boldest challenges, the Times reports, was directed toward a new black nationalist movement that was gathering force in the late 1960s.
He drew support from the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, and finding advocates on university faculties and among alienated young blacks.
Ones who believed that they could never achieve true equality in the U.S.
Murray insisted that integration was necessary, inescapable and the only path forward for the country, giving the nation’s culture its very shape and sound.