Albert Murray, The Omni-Americans
Albert Murray exploded onto the literary scene with The Omni-Americans in 1970. The collection of essays starts with a call for integration, arguing that, "The so-called black and so-called white people of the United States resemble nobody else in the world so much as they resemble each other." He goes on to take a scalpel to all of those who he sees as trying to define a 'blackness' or a 'whiteness' in America. The KKK, the Black Panther's and Black Nationalism, none are spared.
With the publishing of The Omni-Americans, Albert Murray quickly became one of the leading thinkers in America. But his path to that point was a long one. He was in his forties when he wrote the book, after a long stint in the military. Murray attended the Tuskegee institute and for a long time had a close friendship with Ralph Ellison. But while Ellison's work faltered after early successes, Murray started late, but was relatively prolific. He later became one of the champions of Blues. . As Duke Ellington wrote, "He is one of the unsquarest people I know.'
The book was published right at the height of the Black Power movement. Murray saw the movement as a sham and, significantly, was not afraid to take them on. He writes with such honesty, that many of his opponents were unsure of what to say to him.
Review of Murray in Salon
An excellent Q&A with Murray about Ellison, Jazz and writers
A selection of is work from Random House