×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

A Dancer in the Revolution: Stretch Johnson, Harlem Communist at the Cotton Club
     

A Dancer in the Revolution: Stretch Johnson, Harlem Communist at the Cotton Club

by Howard Eugene Johnson
 

See All Formats & Editions

This candid, at times searingly honest, memoir offers a captivating insider's view of life, culture, and politics in 1930s0070s Harlem and delivers the keen insights of a truly inspirational Black American who fought all his life for freedom. The life of Howard Johnson, nicknamed "Stretch" because of his height (6'5"), epitomizes the cultural and

Overview

This candid, at times searingly honest, memoir offers a captivating insider's view of life, culture, and politics in 1930s0070s Harlem and delivers the keen insights of a truly inspirational Black American who fought all his life for freedom. The life of Howard Johnson, nicknamed "Stretch" because of his height (6'5"), epitomizes the cultural and political odyssey of a generation of African Americans who transformed the United States from a closed society to a multiracial democracy. Johnson's long-awaited memoir traces his path from firstborn of a multiclass/multiethnic" family in New Jersey to dancer in Harlem's Cotton Club to communist youth leader and, later, professor of Black studies. A Dancer in the Revolution is a powerful statement about Black resilience and triumph amid subtle and explicit racism in the United States. Johnson's engaging, beautifully written memoir provides a window into everyday life in Harlem--neighborhood life, arts and culture, and politics--from the 1930s to the 1970s, when the contemporary Black community was being formed. A Dancer in the Revolution explores Johnson's twenty-plus years in the Communist Party and illuminates in compelling detail how the Harlem branch functioned and flourished in the 1930s and '40s. Johnson thrived as a charismatic leader, using the connections he built up as an athlete and dancer to create alliances between communist organizations and a cross-section of the Black community. In his memoir, Johnson also exposes the homoerotic tourism that was a feature of Harlem's nightlife in the 1930s. Some of America's leading white literary, musical, and artistic figures were attracted to Harlem not only for the community's artistic creativity but to engage in illicit sex--gay and straight--with their Black counterparts. A Dancer in the Revolution is an invaluable contribution to the literature on Black political thought and pragmatism. It reveals the unique place that Black dancers and artists hold in civil rights pursuits and anti-racism campaigns in the United States and beyond. Moreover, the life of "Stretch" Johnson illustrates how political activism engenders not only social change but also personal fulfillment, a realization of dreams not deferred but rather pursued and achieved. Johnson's journey bears witness to critical periods and events that shaped the Black condition and American society in the process.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Howard "Stretch" Johnson's life story, ably edited by Wendy Johnson, is a compelling drama of race, dance, and radical politics of the 1930s to 1960s. No other book offers so much deep personal insight in these areas, and this book deserves as many readers as Claude McKay's Home to Harlem."--Paul Buhle, authorized biographer of C.L.R. James and retired Senior Lecturer, Brown University

"This is an excellent publication that provides an insider's view of everyday life and culture in Harlem during the period in which the contemporary black community is being formed."--Henry Louis Taylor Jr., University at Buffalo, SUNY

"Although this book touches on issues of race and class endlessly discussed by the US left for decades, it is primarily the story of one man's experience living in a nation whose history is defined by those issues. that life explains more than a thousand debates."--Counterpunch

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823256556
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
04/03/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Howard "Stretch" Eugene Johnson (1915-2000) was a former Communist Party leader, Cotton Club dancer, World War II veteran, and academic. His final years were spent as a professor of Black studies at SUNY New Paltz and as an ongoing activist in Hawai'i, where he helped achieve state recognition of Martin Luther King's birthday as a bank holiday, marching until the age of 80 in Paris, France, and Harlem for causes he believed just. Wendy Johnson is the eldest of Stretch and Martha Sherman Johnson's three daughters. She has worked as an activist, translator, and teacher of English. She lives in Paris. Mark D. Naison is Professor of History and African American Studies at Fordham University, where he also directs the Bronx African American History Project. He is the author of three books, including Communists in Harlem During the Depression.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews