The Gift of Black Folk. Negroes in the Making of America. (Presentation Copy?)
Within the orbit of W.E.B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham, and Langston Hughes
First edition. From the collection of Anna and Thomas O. Johnson with their bookplate. Thomas O. Johnson was a Harlem dentist and a friend to Langston Hughes. On its face value, this copy appears to be a very early presentation copy from Shirley Graham to the Johnson, but the evidence is perplexing.
An inscription on the front pastedown reads: “– To – Tom – From – Shirley Christmas 1924” and laid into the book is a Christmas card that is inscribed: “Tom Dear – From – Shirley” Pencil notes attribute both inscriptions to Shirley Graham, W.E.B. Du Bois’s future wife.
Later in life, Shirley Graham inscribed and gifted the Johnsons with a copy of her biography of W.E.B. Du Bois (His Day is Marching On: A Memoir of W.E.B. DuBois), but we don’t know if she knew the Johnsons in 1924, at aged 28. We have not found any non-cursive examples of Graham’s hand, or any examples of Graham’s handwriting this early, to compare with the book’s inscription. Right now, we leave the attribution of these inscriptions as an open question mark.
Shirley Graham (1896–1977) met W.E.B. Du Bois in 1920, when she was thirteen. Her father subscribed to The Crisis which Graham avidly read. In His Day is Marching On she notes that “Langston Hughes’ poems were published in The Crisis long before they appeared anywhere else.” (p28) Graham lived in Spokane in 1924, raising her two children. She reconnected with Du Bois in 1932 when he gave a favorable review of her music-drama “Tom Tom” in The Crisis. (p39)
A co-founder of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Gift of Black Folk documented the significant ways African Americans helped to build America. Chapters are devoted black explorers, labor, soldiers, African American art and literature, and the “Freedom of Womanhood.”
Description: The Gift of Black Folk. Negroes in the Making of America. (Presentation Copy?)
Boston: The Stratford Co., Publishers, 1924. 349pp. Navy blue cloth with gilt lettering. Light spine wear; a near fine copy.
Work p610. bcj 332893 wq10