Thursday, January 31, 2008

Charles W. Chesnutt, Author and Activist

Author and activist Charles Waddell Chesnutt will become the 31st person inducted into the Black Heritage commemorative stamp series today at a ceremony in Cleveland,Ohio.

Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, June 20, 1858, and grew up in Fayetteville, NC. He died in his hometown in 1932. Scholars describe Chesnutt not as a household name but note that, in recent years, his work has attracted growing interest.

Chesnutt’s writings include novels, books, essays, poems, a biography of Frederick Douglass and several unpublished works. His work in political and civic affairs and his stance against racial discrimination earned him in 1928 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, which recognizes distinguished merit and achievement among African Americans.

Delores Killette, vice president and consumer advocate for the Postal Service, who will dedicate the stamp is quoted as saying,“Charles Chesnutt was an American original, a gifted writer and social activist whose candid discussions of race in America helped set the stage for the successful civil rights movement of the 20th century.”

According to a USPS press release, "Chesnutt was of mixed racial descent, and provided insight into various perspectives along America’s color line. With light skin and blue eyes, Chesnutt could have disregarded his black roots, but he detested such actions. He believed that people of color who tried to 'pass' or represent themselves as white would never achieve political or social equality. His first novel, The House Behind the Cedars, explored this theme."

For more on Charles Waddell Chesnutt, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM