One of the most notable African American intellectuals of his generation, Lawrence Reddick helped to spearhead the early Black history movement, served as the second curator of the Schomburg Library during the 1930s, guided the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Cold War, mentored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout his entire public life, and played a major role in the Black Studies movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A lifelong Pan-Africanist, Reddick also fought for decolonization and Black self-determination alongside key Black diasporic politicians and critical thinkers such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and W.E.B Du Bois. Beyond participating in these interconnected struggles, Reddick helped to document and interpret them for Black and white audiences alike.
In The Scholar and the Struggle: Lawrence Reddick's Crusade for Black History and Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), David A. Varel recovers Reddick's compelling story and reveals the many essential but underappreciated roles played by Black intellectuals during the long Black freedom struggle.
David A. Varel is an affiliate faculty member at Metropolitan State University, Denver.
James West is a historian of Black activism and print culture in the United States and diaspora.