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Germans and African AmericansTwo Centuries of Exchange$
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Larry A. Greene and Anke Ortlepp

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604737844

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604737844.001.0001

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Ollie Harrington

Ollie Harrington

His Portrait Drawn on the Basis of East German (GDR) Secret Service Files

(p.185) Ollie Harrington
Germans and African Americans

Aribert Schroeder

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines how race in America was depicted in East Germany by focusing on the life of African American cartoonist and journalist Oliver Wendell Harrington. Harrington, who used his caricatures and writings to fight racism and colonialism worldwide, sought political asylum in East Berlin in November 1961 after his good friend and fellow writer, Richard Wright, died in Paris. When he criticized GDR cultural policies restricting expression and travel by artists and intellectuals, the Stasi (the East German secret service) began to spy on him, and used informants to monitor his activities. The chapter looks at Harrington’s contact with African Americans who were members of the Communist Party of the United States, upon their visit to East Germany. It also considers his insights into the perspective of the African American left and the GDR’s views on race, the African American civil rights movement, and the African national liberation struggle.

Keywords:   race, America, Oliver Wendell Harrington, East Germany, racism, political asylum, Stasi, African Americans, Communist Party, civil rights movement

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