Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country

By Esther Cooper Jackson; Constance Pohl | Go to book overview

67
Lorraine Hansberry: On Time! No. 4, 1979

JOHN OLIVER KILLENS

John Oliver Killens wrote the novels Youngbloodand And Then We Heard the Thunder and The Great Black Russian, a novel based on the life and times of the Afro-Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Killens was a founding member of the Freedomways collective. This essay appeared in the Freedomways special issue "Lorraine Hansberry: Art of Thunder, Vision of Light."

At a writers conference at Howard University sponsored by the Institute for the Arts and the Humanities in April of 1976, Sister Toni Cade Bambara said, "The responsibility of a writer representing an oppressed people is to make revolution irresistible." Several decades before, the great Paul Robeson had said, "An artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. . . . I have made my choice. I had no alternative." To immodestly quote myself from a book of essays entitled Black Man's Burden, I wrote: "Every time I sit down to the typewriter, every line I put on paper, I'm out to change the world, to capture reality, to melt it down and forge it into something entirely different."

-335-

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