George Samuel Schuyler was an American author, journalist, and social critic. He is best known for his contributions to literature and his thought-provoking commentary on race and society. His most famous work, Black No More (1931), is a satirical novel set in a speculative future where a medical procedure allows black people to transform into white people.
Schuyler was associated with the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City during the 1920s and 1930s.
George S. Schuyler was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to George Francis Schuyler, a chef, and Eliza (Fischer) Schuyler. The Schuyler family was from the Albany-Troy area, a great grandfather having served under General Philip Schuyler, and his racially mixed maternal line was from the New York/New Jersey area.
He served in the United States Army from 1912 to 1918 and became a first lieutenant. He spent much of his military career in Hawaii, where he started writing satire for The Service.
In 1921, he joined the Socialist Party of America. He later moved to New York City and attended meetings of various black groups, including the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the Friends of Negro Freedom.
Schuyler worked at The Messenger and The Pittsburgh Courier from 1923 to 1928. He traveled across the South, observing race relations, and became known for his critical editorials. He also contributed to left-wing publications like The Nation.
In 1931, he published Black No More, a satirical novel exploring a world where black people could become white through science.
The Scottsboro trial in 1931 motivated him to expose what he saw as communist infiltration in black civil rights movements. He wrote anti-communist articles and joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to investigate labor conditions.
Schuyler's efforts included reporting, writing for various publications, and advocating racial equality. He joined efforts to promote cultural freedom, worked against racial inequalities in schools and workplaces, and encouraged racial integration.
Samuel Schuyler became the editor of The Pittsburgh Courier's New York edition in 1944, focusing on global perspectives. He wrote for Plain Talk, an anti-communist magazine, and international conferences.
In the 1960s, Schuyler's opinions diverged from the emerging civil rights movement. He criticized media attention to problems in the black community and questioned the effectiveness of protests and demonstrations.
Schuyler continued to write for conservative publications like the Manchester Union and Review of the News.
George S. Schuyler passed away in 1977, leaving a complex legacy as a writer and commentator who challenged prevailing ideas about race, politics, and society.
Photo credit: Carl Van Vechten, Courtesy Van Vechten Trust.