My heart goes out to Wally Thurman, one of the most unknown and underrated members of the Harlem Renaissance. He along with Bruce Nugent were two of the lesser known members of the Nigeratti, a collective made up of other massive figures such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Though his star doesn’t shine quite as bright, and although his work may have been filled with a cloud of self doubt, Thurman’s work is among some of the richest of the period. His novel “The Blacker The Berry” delves head first into the color complex that exist in the lost children of Africa who find themselves in the United States. His work was fueled perhaps by the fact that Thurman was a victim of color discrimination even amongst the Black artist circles (remember Nugent recalled being disgusted by the “blackness”of Thurman’s skin) Like many from the period, Thurman found himself broke in his later life, forced by hetero societal pressure to marry a womyn. His wife is reported to have said “I never understood Wallace. He took nothing seriously. He laughed about everything. He would often threaten to commit suicide but you knew he would never do it. And he would never admit that he was a homosexual, but he was. Never, never, not to me at any rate.” The union dissolved.
That aside, Thurman is a star, burning bright and resilient. We salute thee.