Born in Nebraska into a community of few other African Americans, Lance Jeffers (1919-1985) served in the U.S. Army during World War II and then earned B.A. and M.A. degrees at Columbia University in New York City. Described by critic Trudier Harris as “a black nationalist without a movement,” Jeffers was featured in Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal’s anthology Black Fire (1968) but kept his distance from the inner circles of the Black Arts. Celebrating “blackness / Tender and strong, wounded and wise,” his poems were collected in such books as My Blackness Is The Beauty of This Land (1970), O Africa, Where I Baked My Bread (1977), and Grandsire (1979), the last devoted to his wife, Trellie James. His only novel, Witherspoon (1983), traced a black minister’s route to revolution. A professor at North Carolina State University from 1974 until his death, Jeffers was first investigated by the FBI while a writing student at Columbia, where agents monitored his course schedule and credit hours.
FBI documents studying Lance Jeffers.
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