J. A. Rogers
“No man living has revealed so many important facts about the Negro race as has Rogers,” wrote W. E. B. DuBois. Indeed, as Henry Louis Gates Jr. contends, J. A. Rogers was often the only source for an ordinary Black person to learn of their history from the 1920s through the 1970s. Now Louis J. Parascandola makes available an accessible collection of Rogers’s writings for a new generation.
Joel Augustus Rogers was born in Negril, Jamaica, in the late nineteenth century, where—although his father was a teacher—he received only basic education. Rogers emigrated to the United States and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago while working as a Pullman porter. He later took up journalism and moved to New York for better opportunities, writing for papers and journals published by the likes of Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. DuBois, and H. L. Mencken. While working with the Pittsburgh Courier, he was assigned to cover the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–1937), becoming the first American Black foreign war correspondent. His column for the Courier became vital to the Black middle class, conveying stories of Black achievements and relating a distinguished history that imparted knowledge and pride. He continued this work with his books 100 Amazing Facts about the Negro with Complete Proof, the two-volume The World’s Great People of Color 3000 B.C. to 1946 A.D., and the novel From Superman to Man.
This engaging collection represents the wide range of Rogers’s work across time and demonstrates his intellectual philosophy. J. A. Rogers: Selected Writings is required reading for anyone interested in Black nationalism, Black journalism, Black literature, and Pan-African culture and identity.
LOUIS J. PARASCANDOLA is professor of English at Long Island University. He is the author of “Puzzled Which to Choose”: Conflicting Sociopolitical Views in the Works of Captain Frederick Marryat and editor or co-editor of several critical anthologies of African American or Caribbean immigrant authors, such as Gwendolyn Bennett, Eric Walrond, and Amy Jacques Garvey.