In Memoriam: Albert Lee Murray, 1916-2013

AlbertMurrayAlbert Murray, the African American novelist, educator, and essayist, has died at his home in Harlem. He was 97 years old.

Murray was a fervent integrationist and an opponent of Black separatists. His first book, The Omni Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and American Culture put forth the theory that all Americans were more alike than their differences made them appear to be.

Murray was a native of Nokomis, Alabama, whose parents gave him up for adoption. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University and did graduate study at the University of Michigan before returning to Tuskegee to teach literature. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Murray used the GI Bill to earn a master’s degree at New York University. Over the years he held visiting professorships at Columbia University, Emory University, Colgate University, and the University of Massachusetts.

Murray authored many more books including his memoir South to a Very Old Place (1971) and worked with Count Basie of his autobiography Good Morning Blues (1985). He also wrote four novels and published a collection of poetry.

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  1. Rest in peace, Brother Murray. Your work on folklore and the blues and your immensely productive collaboration with Ralph Ellison has left an indelible mark on world literature. As a teacher of African-American literature, I am keenly aware of the debt our national literature, not only creative but philosophical and scholarly, owes to you.

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