Hoyt Fuller (1923-1981), born in Atlanta and educated at Wayne State University in Detroit, launched his career in journalism at the Detroit Tribune, the Michigan Chronicle, and John H. Johnson’s Ebony Magazine. Frustrated with Ebony’s many lifestyle features as well as by the scope of white American racism, he abandoned his position as associate editor of the magazine in 1957 and roamed through France and Spain. Impressed by the anticolonial thought of Sekou Toure, the first president of the independent African nation of Guinea, he then toured Guinea and Algeria, a mind-altering homecoming he recreated in his memoir Journey to Africa (1971). John H. Johnson, willing to forgive Fuller’s defection from Ebony, turned to Fuller when seeking an editor for the revived Negro Digest in 1961. Fuller accepted the job, dropped the format of Reader’s Digest-like summaries of previously published articles, and transformed the journal into a serious, original forum on Pan-African art and politics. By 1970, Negro Digest had become Negro Digest/Black World, a change of name that reflected its new status as a beacon of the Black Arts movement. A typical issue, notes Richard A. Long, contained a number of poems and short stories, approximately eight articles on subjects from black health to Black Power, and a short essay by Fuller prominently displayed on the back cover. A complete and searchable run of the journal can now be found at Google Books. Addison Gayle’s influential anthology The Black Aesthetic (1971) drew on many stances and authors associated with Negro Digest/Black World. Fuller himself contributed the now-canonical essay “Towards a Black Aesthetic,” in which he declared that “the revolutionary black writer, like the new breed of militant activist, has decided that white racism will no longer exercise its insidious control over his work.” The FBI opened a file on Fuller in 1954, years before his stint as a major Black Arts editor, but this document may be most valuable for its documentation of Black Power meetings and conferences.
FBI documents studying Hoyt Fuller.
Material is in the public domain.
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