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Hoyt William Fuller collection

 Collection — Box: 1-65
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0039

Scope and contents

The Hoyt William Fuller Collection documents his career from 1943-1981. Included in these papers are several autobiographies that together give an account of his childhood and youth. The collection follows his long association with the Bertha Krausner Literary Agency and includes an extensive collection of his short stories as well as those of aspiring writers and established writers, poets, historians and others.

Mr. Fuller's association with Johnson Publishing Company from the 1950's until 1976 is represented by those papers generated during his years as the associate editor of Ebony and as editor of Negro Digest/Black World, 1961-1976. In his capacity as editor of the leading Black literary publication in the nation, Mr. Fuller was mentor, critic, consultant and publisher to many of today's writers. He was a founder of the Organization of Black American Culture (O.B.A.C.). The famous Wall of Respect in Chicago, created by the artist workshop of O.B.A.C. in May of 1976, gave impetus to the wall mural movement of the 1960's.

In 1976 Mr. Fuller left Johnson Publishing Company. This historically significant parting is documented here as is his teaching career at Cornell University, Northwestern University, Atlanta Junior College, and elsewhere.

The struggle to establish First World magazine in Atlanta and the accompanying network of Atlanta supports right up until his death in 1981 complete the collection. These papers and the correspondence, photographs and posters that document his travels in Africa, Europe and the Americas leave a collection of great clarity and great beauty. This collection will prove to be a vital link in the history of African Americans and a most important part of the development of responsible journalism in the United States. It is our strong conviction that for researchers, writers, poets and scholars the Hoyt William Fuller Collection must be a point of reference.

Charles Freeney


  • Creation: 1940-1981


Rights statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright and/or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical note

Hoyt William Fuller (September 10, 1923-May 11, 1981) was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Mr. Thomas and Mrs. Lillie Beatrice Ellafair Fuller. Hoyt Fuller was reared and educated in the elementary schools of Atlanta, Georgia. After the death of his father, his mother took Hoyt and his brother, James to her mother's home in College Park, Georgia. Early in life Hoyt was sent to Detroit, Michigan to live with an aunt where he attended Northern High School.

After graduating from high school, Fuller joined the United States Army and was attached to the 370th Battalion of the 92nd Infantry Division and was sent to the "War Front" in Italy. With the surrender of Germany, Fuller was sent to the Aeronautical Institute at the University of Florence in Florence, Italy.

After the war, in 1945, Fuller returned to Detroit, Michigan and immediately enrolled at Wayne State University. Two years later he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Journalism. Upon graduation, Fuller accepted a job as Cincinnati editor of the Ohio State News, a Columbus, Ohio newspaper. Fuller's second job was as associate editor of Color magazine in Charleston, West Virginia.

In 1951, Fuller returned to Detroit and worked for the Water Board for the city of Detroit. After a year he resigned from the city and took a job as feature editor of the Michigan Chronicle, a Detroit weekly newspaper. Three years later, Fuller left the Chronicle for a position as associate editor of Ebony magazine in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1957, Fuller resigned from the staff of Ebony and sailed to Europe. He spent nearly three years travelling over Europe and residing on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca as a legal resident of Spain. While in Europe Fuller took a three-month journey to West Africa and served as the West African correspondent for the Haagse Post, Amsterdam, Holland.

In January 1959 in Europe, Fuller booked passage on the FOCH for Africa and spent several weeks in Senegal and the New Republic of Guinea, a few months after Sekou Toure led Guinea to independence from France.

After returning to the United States, Fuller moved to New York City and worked as an assistant editor at Collier's Encyclopedia. In March 1961, he resigned from Collier's Encyclopedia and returned to Chicago to revive and serve as managing editor of the Negro Digest which was published by Johnson Publications of Chicago, Illinois. The magazine was renamed Black World in 1970 and ceased publication in 1976.

In 1965-1966 Mr. Fuller spent six months in Africa under a John Hay Whitney Fellowship.

A collection of his articles concerning his travels to Guinea and Senegal was published under the title Journey to Africa, Third World Press, 1971. Other countries in Africa visited by Fuller included Algeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.

In the early summer of 1976, Fuller and a group of concerned people from across the country met in New York City (Harlem) and formed the First World Foundation, the purpose of which was to publish First World magazine. In 1977 Fuller returned to Atlanta and became the first editro for First World.

Fuller was a professor of Literature and Journalism at several colleges and universities. His last teaching position was at the Africana Center of Cornell University to which he commuted weekly from Atlanta, Georgia to Ithaca, New York. Early in the afternoon on the 11th of May 1981, Fuller ended his meeting with Howard Dodson at the Institute of the Black World. Dodson relates that they discussed his rigorous schedule, and Fuller was excited about thte prospects for a change. Mr. Dodson was informed that evening that Hoyt Fuller had been stricken with a heart attack in downtown Atlanta and that he had died.

Dovie Touchstone Patrick

An Autobiographical Sketch

The community in which I was born, like so much else of that time, remains and ever receding memory in the minds of an ever diminishing number of people. It was called "Grabbal," and it was part of what is now East Point. The first years of my life were spent there and on the other side of East Point in those frail little cabins locally known as shotgun houses. After the death of my father, Thomas Fuller, my mother took my brother James and me back to her mother's home in College Park. It was there that I grew up.

Like all the other Negro children in College Park and vicinity, I attended the Redwine Avenue School, an institution that evolved in the period that I was there from a sprawling wooden old-time schoolhouse to a semi-modern brick building. Prior to that, however, I had gone to kindergarten in a huge two-story house on Princeton Avenue presided over by a wonderful lady known as Mrs. Johnson. That lady did such an excellent job on getting through to me with the ABC's that I was able to skip right into the second grade, whose keeper was a short, tough, no-nonsense type names Miss Moore...

Hoyt William Fuller


23 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in 15 series. The series include: Personal correspondence, Personal records, Publication and literary files, Negro Digest, Black World, First World, Conferences, Teaching and research, Resources and clippings files, Fuller manuscripts, Non-Fuller manuscripts, Photographs, Memorabilia, Slides, and Posters.


In a time of great change, turmoil and creativity, Hoyt Fuller's search for clarity and beauty was his special gift. His genius for detail and nuance is a source of continuing wisdom.

The Hoyt William Fuller Collection documents his activities as a writer, editor, activist and also reveals his tireless efforts as promoter, mentor and friend to the arts and the artist.

The collection spans a period roughly from the early 1940s to 1981. It is an important source on the development of the Black Arts Movement which Hoyt Fuller did much to encourage and define.

The Hoyt William Fuller Collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, phonograph records, slides, posters and more than 3000 books on the Black Experience. The many short stories, scripts, essays and lectures by Mr. Fuller will be of great interest to biographers.

The tribute "Remembering Hoyt," was taken from the memorial celebration of his life. It was chosen because we realized that remembering Hoyt is to remember Detroit, Dakar, College Park, Paris and Mallorca. Rembmering Hoyt affords the opportunity to examine in painful and joyful detail the Negro Press, Black Studies, Black Art, Africa, African American artists, poets, writers and thinkers.

"Remembering Hoyt" helps us to fulfill our obligation to honor that which is best in us and to pass it on to our progeny, the world.

Charles Freeney

In Honor of Hoyt Fuller

Our best people leave us. They sicken and die. They leave us too early because much of our burden they bear. Because their commitment is tense and intense. Because their strength is measure but their love is not.

Hoyt Fuller was one of our best influences. His genius, his judgement, the efficient richness of his supervision--all have warmed and have magnificently corrected us. Because of his gift we are a little less wobbly in the wild wind.

Gwendolyn Brooks

In Memoriam: Hoyt Fuller

The sudden death of Hoyt Fuller at the age of fifty-seven, the result of a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia, the city to which he went in 1976 to establish an international journal of the black world called First World, came as a brutal shock to the many black writers, old and young, who had come to respect and even to take for granted his eloquent voice and elegant style.

Hoyt Fuller, already recognized as a talented writer and editor, went to Guinea in the early sixties to experience the "new" Africa, and while there came to recognize that the problems experienced by the latter were part and parcel of the larger dichotomy of color described so eloquently at the beginning of the century by W.E.B. Du Bois. With this realization, he accepted a little later the invitation of the publisher, John H. Johnson, to edit a revived Negro Digest from the Chicago headquarters of Johnson Publishing. In his hands, Negro Digest, later adopting the more accurate Black World, became a vibrant and vital journal of black Americans and black overseas opinion, of literary criticism and historical analysis and a major vehicle for short fiction and poetry.

A perceptible black arts movement came into being in the United States in the sixties as a parallel to the Civil Rights Movement and Hoyt's journal was recognized as its principal organ. His special interest in young writers led him to establish the Organization of Black American Culture (O.B.A.C.), a writers' workshop in Chicago from which emerged Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti), Carolyn Rodgers, Angela Jackson and many others. His concern with, and understanding of, the situation of black people as an interconnected one was a motive for travel and involvement with international cultural manifestations. He attended the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar and reported extensively on it. There, he forged firm ties with Alioune Diop among others. He served as vice-chairman of the United States Zonal Committee for F.E.S.T.A.C. He also served on the committee for, and participated in, the First and Second New World Festivals of the African Diaspora held in Brazil and in Haiti. He also attended the Pan-African Congress of Algiers and the Colloquium on Negritude in Dakar.

Hoyt Fuller's most distinctive and initially most controversial achievement was the launching of the concept of the "Black Aesthetic," a challenge taken up by Addison Gayle who published a book with that title. A bibliography of that concept has recently been compiled by Carolyn Fowler. Hoyt had reviewed the bibliography and accepted it as the first book-length work to issue for the First World Press.

In leaving Chicago for Atlanta, following the publisher's decision to close down Black World, Hoyt was giving form to an idea he had long been developing - that of founding a journal of the black world that fulfilled his own expectations, visual and entrepreneurial. The slow start of the journal and the necessity of changing it from a monthly to a quarterly and then to an even more occasional format were a great grief to him. Nevertheless, he remained optimistic both as to the journal's mission and to its prospects. His optimism seemed on the verge of being justified as he had just concluded an attractive publishing arrangement with the publishers of Black Collegian in New Orleans.

Late in 1980, on the occasion of the Black South Arts Conference in Atlanta, Hoyt had been genuinely touched by an outpouring of sentiment for First World expressed at a party held for it. Among the speakers were Andrew Young, Sterling Brown, Atlanta Police Commissioner Lee Brown and many others.

Hoyt died on May 11, 1981. On Saturday May 16, 1981, some of his friends participated in a program entitled "Remembering Hoyt." Among those speaking were James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Abena Joan Brown, Mari Evans, George Kent, Richard Long, Dudley Randall and Val Gray Ward...

Dr. Richard A. Long Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Emory University Atlanta, Georgia

The Late Hoyt Fuller, 1923-1981

Originally, Council Contact was started to inform constituents about city affairs and related matters. I did not contemplate writing about personal relations and especially close friends. However, I recently lost a very dear friend an I think it is noteworthy that I write a passing note about memories of the man and his life.

It was a little over four years ago that I met Hoyt Fuller when he stopped by my law office to consult with me about a legal matter. We became friends over the years and he was the speech writer during my campaign for president of the Atlanta City Council. Because I did not fully know who he was until sometime later, I did not know at our first meeting about his work and his commitment to a better life for black Americans.

I subsequently learned that he was a native Atlantan, having received his early childhood education here in the city of Atlanta. He was an editor, a lecturer, teacher and great writer with a deep concentration in Black history.

He was a prolific writer, provoking an abundant intellectual growth among his peers. A local columnist, Roger Witherspoon, wrote, "...Hoyt W. Fuller was a premier promoter of literary and artistic development in the black American community." It can be said that Hoyt Fuller put forth a new thought process for black Americans.

Hoyt was a controversial personality and sometimes misunderstood to a great extent. One of my associates and I had a dispute over a recent letter which Hoyt wrote to the editor of the Atlanta Journal newspaper. I basically agreed with my colleague's observation, but defended Hoyt's right to express himself about an unpopular issue. True to form, Hoyt took the editor to task about not having an appreciation for the black perspective. He even accused the editor of being insensitive and not informed about the black experience.

Hoyt simply did not understand why black Americans had to wait for constitutionally guaranteed rights. He was impatient because he felt the system could simply enforce the law in an equitable manner and guarantee human rights for all people. Yet, he understood the system that produced the new rise of the Ku Klux Klan; the hanging death of a young black in Mobile, Alabama; the killing of young black men in Buffalo, New York; and the new conservatism in America. In fact, he believed blacks were losing precious rights gained in the 60's and he was openly hostile toward the Bakke decision because of its impact on the black movement.

Hoyt could not tolerate mediocrity. He felt black Americans needed to know about important issues, particularly third world politics. Most of his knowledge about the black experience came from personal experiences gained in Africa and other foreign countries. Where there was no personal experience, there were books and other publications at his fingertips. His living room had a touch of a public library. You knew instantly upon entering his home that he was a student and a teacher of the black experience.

Hoyt was also strong, committed to an idea and principle. He was understanding, concerned, sensitive and involved. He was a total man and a good friend and I shall miss him.

Although Hoyt will not be around to give me counsel and advice, he had a profound impact on my life and I am sure I matured both professionally and spiritually from our friendship.

Hoyt's death is a great loss to the black community and indeed the world, and he will be sorely missed.

Farewell to a good friend,

Marvin S. Arrington Council Contact, City of Atlanta 1981

Hoyt William Fuller collection, 1940-1981
Finding aid prepared by Charles Freene, Dovie T. Patrick, Doris T. Shockley, 1991
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Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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