Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix

About the Author

Kathryn Waddell Takara, PhD, is the author of four books, including the ground-breaking biography of Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix (A Critical Biography). Davis was an acclaimed journalist, poet, and long time resident of Hawai`i from 1948-1987 when he died.

Waddell Takara is a 2010 winner of the American Book Award (Before Columbus Foundation). She is a performance poet and writer, recently retired from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. Dr. Takara was a professor of ethnic, interdisciplinary, and cultural studies for thirty-six years (1968-2007). Waddell Takara holds a PhD in Political Science and a MA in French, and has traveled, lectured, and read her poetry extensively throughout the Hawaiian Islands, the USA mainland, and in Northeast China. She is a two time Fulbright recipient and a public scholar. Kathryn Waddell Takara makes her home in Hawai`i since 1968.

About the Book

Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix (A Critical Biography) is a compelling historical biography about Frank Marshall Davis (1907-1987), journalist, editor, poet, labor activist, and Renaissance man of the Black Chicago Renaissance who wrote and recorded the times, race relations, and culture as reflected in his life and community. He wrote of his vision of democracy, his observations of race relations, the African American culture and community, the urban experience, the hypocrisy of democracy, war and the black soldiers, imperialism in Hawai`i, and the economic disparities in the USA.

Between the pages of this critical biography, Davis established connective marginalities between the black and white worlds, in the first half of the 20th century. His personal aim to acquire power, status, and dignity like any white citizen and the methods he utilized were often unusual, unconventional, and challenging: journalism, editorials, poetry, music, American and African history, politics, and activism.

Davis’s esthetic perceptions, sociopolitical analysis, and rigorous interpretive thought are valuable today in understanding America’s socio-political and economic development. He wrote of the racial climate, unhealthy environment and the black psyche, identity issues, migrations of blacks to the urban areas and their struggles with poverty, lack of education and training, tattered dreams, sexual politics, and conflicts based on stereotypes and race, alternately using lyricism and satire to educate, empower and push for social reform.

His writing, especially his editorials, shows how the black intellectual’s voice has been forged in response to political and cultural movements as a confrontational force connecting the black and white worlds. Davis documents the geopolitics of race and class from Kansas to Hawai`i.

The Fire and the Phoenix highlights Davis’s journey from where he was born, raised, and educated in Kansas to his professional work as a journalist and poet in Chicago, Gary, Atlanta, Chicago and finally the territory of Hawai`i in 1948. Throughout his long life, Davis wrote about the social, political and economic events and served as a witness and critic of racism, economic disparities, imperialism and colonialism long before those concepts were part of the social science jargon and studies. Davis remained in Hawai`i until he died in 1987.

The author, Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D., political scientist, poet, and retired professor of Black and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, writes with an uncanny ability to dissect the humanity of Frank Marshall Davis and to explore the myths and legacy of what Davis left to the world that is applicable in the 21st century. Takara met, visited, befriended, and interviewed Davis in Hawai`i during the last 15 years of his life. Takara felt a special affinity for and understanding of Davis due to certain shared situations: the Jim Crow South, poetry and politics, activism, and interracial marriage and life as an African American in Hawai`i.

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