Redding, J. Saunders
Redding, (Jay) J. Saunders(1906–77) educator, literary critic, author; born in Wilmington, Del. After beginning at Lincoln University, he took his degrees at Brown (B.A. 1928, M.A. 1932). As both a professor of literature and an astute observer of the situation of African-Americans, he taught at Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.) (1928–31), the Louisville Music Conservatory (1934–36), Southern University (New Orleans) (1936–38), and the Hampton Institute (1943–66). He was a director of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1966–70) and he went on to teach at Cornell until his death. In various critical works, he set forth his views, often at odds with both the white and black establishments. In Stranger and Alone (1950), he exposed conditions in America's all-black colleges, charging that the students are trained to be submissive and thus are being educated for failure. And although he became known as "the dean of Afro-American studies," he himself preferred the word "Negro" and distrusted "Black Studies": he wanted to free African-Americans from all special categories and achieve a truly pluralistic and assimilationist society. He wrote over one thousand reviews of books by writers of all colors and his many books include To Make a Poet Black (1939), They Came in Chains (1950), and The Lonesome Road (1958).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.