Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987) was an influential African American journalist, novelist, and poet who was born in Kansas and spent his adult life in Atlanta, Chicago, and Honolulu. His life's project was to fight racism, hypocrisy, and injustice wherever he encountered them. In addition to writing for many newspapers, as well as publishing poetry and fiction, during his long career he served as editor of the Atlanta Daily World, an editor of the Associated Negro Press (ANP), and a columnist for the Honolulu Record.
In her carefully researched biography, Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix, Kathryn Waddell Takara chronicles his career and personal life. In doing so, she also discusses the major periods and events of twentieth century African American history, ranging from poverty in the Jim Crow South to the emergence of jazz as an expressive and liberating art form to the civil rights movement. Takara was friends with Davis in Honolulu during the last fifteen years of his life and is therefore able to show his warmth and compassion as a person, as well as his political and literary achievements. She makes a convincing argument that he should be remembered along with other significant African American writers, such as Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. I'm glad Takara has brought the work of Frank Marshall Davis to our attention.