Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, author of Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care about Jews, the South, and Civil Rights, will talk about the book March 16 at 1 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries. Open free to the public, the presentation will be followed by a reception.
A Jewish writer and humorist, Harry Golden was a fearless advocate for civil rights. He exposed racism and anti-Semitism in all guises, and he did so with wit and originality, according to Hartnett.
After his immigrant childhood on the Lower East Side and a stint on Wall Street in the 1920s (closely followed by prison time in Atlanta for fraud), Golden landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the 1940s. There he launched his quirky newspaper, the Carolina Israelite, which led to his first book, Only in America, a record-breaking best-seller in 1958. More than 20 popular books followed, along with a syndicated column and an enormous national audience from the 1950s to the 1970s.
“Golden was a pop-culture star, unabashed self-promoter, very funny and essentially a blogger before the Internet existed—and was recognized by many of the civil rights movement’s leaders as an effective ally,” Hartnett said.
In the 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. cited Golden as one of a small number of white people who wrote in “eloquent, prophetic and understanding terms” about the civil rights struggle.
Golden’s papers are housed at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.