The Artist Birthday Series

Arna Bontemps


During the early 1930s, African-American writers and intellectuals were not welcomed in Northern Alabama. Just thirty miles from Huntsville in Decatur, the Scottsboro boys were being tried in court. During this time, Bontemps had many friends visit and stay with him while they came to Alabama to protest this trial. Bontemps’ constant out-of-state visitors drew concerns with the school administration. In later years, Bontemps professed that the administration at the Oakwood Junior College demanded he burn many of his private books in order to indicate his relinquishing radical politics. Bontemps refused to do so. He resigned from his teaching position and moved back to California with his family in 1934.


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