Cecil Brown

Cecil Brown is senior lecturer in urban studies at Stanford University where he is also a researcher at The Spatial History Project. He is author of the novel The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger, originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1969.

Posts by Cecil Brown

On the Set with Scotland the Brave

When the door of the Lincoln Town Car shut, I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw Sean coming towards me. I did not get up. He came and sit down right beside me, But I was already thinking and remembering and recalling how Daddy and Uncle Lofton would settle themselves before they worked on the rail tracks.

Remembering Ronald Fair

Nineteen seventy-two saw the publication of the autobiographical novel We Can’t Breathe. For several years, aided by several writing grants, Ronald Fair traveled abroad, pursuing a writing life of great ambition. In the early seventies critic Shane Stevens called him “one of the two best black writers in the country.” Yet this promise somehow never came to full fruition.

With James Baldwin at the Welcome Table

Apparently, Jimmy had been given an advance of $100,000 for If Beale Street Could Talk with the promise of another $200,000 on completion. I gathered that he was anxious to get it done. It seemed as if he needed the seclusion of this special place to write about the tragic life of black Americans.

Interview With Toni Morrison

The Common Reader remembers the iconic African-American novelist Toni Morrison in this 1995 interview: “Black writing has to carry that burden of other people’s desires, not artistic desires but social desires; it’s always perceived as working out somebody’s else’s agenda. No other literature has that weight.”