The Life and Times of Louis Lomax: The Art of Deliberate Disunity

Duke Univ. Pr. Apr. 2021. 264p. ISBN 9781478011804. pap. $25.95. SOC SCI
The first Black journalist to host a syndicated U.S. TV show, Louis Lomax (1922–70) was at the forefront of many of the civil rights movement’s pivotal points, yet his legacy lingers in the margins, argues Aiello (history, Valdosta State Univ.; Jim Crow’s Last Stand). Laboring to center Lomax as one of the most influential voices in the Black freedom movement in the 1960s, Aiello delves into the contradictions that made the man who he was. See for example Lomax’s self-promoting career of reporting the news and keeping himself in it, at times with conspiracy theories; one conspiracy theory even shrouds his death in the Nevada desert. Aiello says that Lomax is a pragmatist willing to shift positions in response to changing situations and in pursuit of his own success: he made himself an effective advocate for Black issues with his books The Reluctant African (1960) and The Negro Revolt (1962); introduced broader American audiences to Malcolm X; promoted Pan-Africanism; and protested the war in Vietnam.
VERDICT Aiello’s searching spotlight shows general readers and scholars a formidable figure and further illuminates the role and power of journalism and television during the civil rights movement. A welcome study of a pioneering man and his times.
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