Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-12-23 20:08Z by Steven

Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections
Columbia Center for Oral History
Columbia University, New York, New York
Digitized 2010 (Originally recorded in 1967)
DOI: 10.7916/d8-cpb1-1692

Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977) interviewed by William R. Keylor (1944-).

Listen to the interview here.

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Lonnie Lawrence Dennis: His Shocking Role in History After ‘Boy Evangelist’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2019-07-24 00:34Z by Steven

Shocking Role in History After ‘Boy Evangelist’

Lost Buxton: Information about Buxton, Iowa by Rachelle Chase

Rachelle Chase

Lonnie Lawrence Dennis
Lonnie Lawrence Dennis as a child

“At a revival we used to have, I remember this little boy was preaching,” said Gertrude Stokes, an African American resident of Buxton, Iowa. “He used to wear a little white robe. He ran our revival and that’s when I joined the church.”

The little boy was eight-year-old Lonnie Lawrence Dennis. On November 16, 1902, Lonnie appeared at St. John’s A.M.E. Church in Buxton. To a full house, he preached “The Life of Christ,” after which a long line formed at the altar. At least 50 men, women and children had decided to “follow the story of Christ.”1 Lonnie remained in Buxton for 10 days, where he continued to convert many, like Stokes.

During this time, locals trudged through mud to hear him. Others traveled from surrounding towns, such as Albia, Lovilia and Oskaloosa. Lonnie had become known nationwide and everyone wanted to hear the renowned child evangelist…

…But not only had he ditched his first name, he had apparently ditched his parents and all public references to being black. In 1913, he entered a prestigious prep school, Phillips Exeter Academy, and in 1915 he entered Harvard. After serving briefly in WWI in France, he resumed his studies at Harvard, graduated in 1920, and landed a job with the State Department.

But it was his activities beginning in the 1930s that shocked (and appalled) me—activities that made him “widely known as the most influential person in American fascism”…

Read the entire article here.

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ROR CHASING COLOR: EP 07 | Blacks Passing as White

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2017-06-04 21:02Z by Steven

ROR CHASING COLOR: EP 07 | Blacks Passing as White

Revolution of Race
Chasing Color

Dr. Blair Proctor, Expert Host and Ph.D. Doctorate in Sociology

Pamela Lawrence, Moderator, Founder & Creative Director

The 7th Episode explores the hidden history with Blacks ‘passing’ as White. From ‘Free People of Color’ to ‘Creoles’ to Lawrence Dennis the so-called founder of American Facism that passed as a white man when all along he was a Black Man.

Dr Proctor breaks-down the entire landscape about Passing by exploring a host of issues like white-tonics and trans-racial and how the system of white supremacy among whites and respectability politics among blacks continues advance the narrative to poison the hearts & minds of human society.

This is longer episode than but worth every minute of discussion with Dr. Proctor which also includes the names of ‘blacks’ passing as white in present day.

Are you unapologetically Black?


Listen to the episode (01:49:27) here.

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In Depth with Gerald Horne

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-10-16 21:44Z by Steven

In Depth with Gerald Horne

In Depth

Peter Slen, Host

Gerald Horne, Professor of History and African-American Studies
University of Houston

Author Gerald Horne talked about his life and career and responded to viewer comments and questions. His most recent book is Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary.

Gerald Horne is the author of numerous books, including Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic, Race to Revolution: The United States and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow, The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African-American Freedom Struggle, Negro Comrades of the Crown: African-Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation, Fighting in Paradise: Labor Unions, Racism and Communists in the Making of Modern Hawaii, and W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography, among others [including The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States].

Watch the interview (03:00:05) here.

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The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-05-03 18:42Z by Steven

The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

New York University Press
256 pages
4 illustrations
ISBN: 9780814736869

Gerald Horne, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History
University of Houston

What does it mean that Lawrence Dennis—arguably the “brains” behind U.S. fascism—was born black but spent his entire adult life passing for white? Born in Atlanta in 1893, Dennis began life as a highly touted African American child preacher, touring nationally and arousing audiences with his dark-skinned mother as his escort. However, at some point between leaving prep school and entering Harvard University, he chose to abandon his family and his former life as an African American in order to pass for white. Dennis went on to work for the State Department and on Wall Street, and ultimately became the public face of U.S. fascism, meeting with Mussolini and other fascist leaders in Europe. He underwent trial for sedition during World War II, almost landing in prison, and ultimately became a Cold War critic before dying in obscurity in 1977.

Based on extensive archival research, The Color of Fascism blends biography, social history, and critical race theory to illuminate the fascinating life of this complex and enigmatic man. Gerald Horne links passing and fascism, the two main poles of Dennis’s life, suggesting that Dennis’s anger with the U.S. as a result of his upbringing in Jim Crow Georgia led him to alliances with the antagonists of the U.S. and that his personal isolation which resulted in his decision to pass dovetailed with his ultimate isolationism.

Dennis’s life is a lasting testament to the resilience of right-wing thought in the U.S. The first full-scale biographical portrait of this intriguing figure, The Color of Fascism also links the strange career of a prominent American who chose to pass.

Read the preface here.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: More Than Passing Strange
  • 1. Passing Fancy?
  • 2. Passing Through
  • 3. Fascism
  • 4. The Face—of Fascism
  • 5. Fascism and Betrayal
  • 6. Approaching Disaster
  • 7. Framing a Guilty Man?
  • 8. Fascism on Trial
  • 9. A Trial on Trial
  • 10. After the Fall
  • 11. An Isolationist Isolated?
  • 12. Passing On
  • Notes
  • Index
  • About the Author
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The fascist who ‘passed’ for white

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2013-04-04 21:00Z by Steven

The fascist who ‘passed’ for white

The Guardian

Gary Younge, Feature Writer and Columnist

Lawrence Dennis was a leading light in the American fascist movement of the 1930s. He was a fan of Hitler and a self-avowed anti-semite. Now a new book reveals that he was actually black—although even his wife didn’t know. Gary Younge reports

Lawrence Dennis was, arguably, the brains behind American fascism. He attended the Nuremberg rallies, had a personal audience with Mussolini, and met Nazi leaders; throughout the 1930s he provided the intellectual ballast for America’s bourgeoning pro-fascist movement. But though his work was well known and well appreciated by the intelligentsia and political elites on both sides of the Atlantic, there was one crucial fact about him that has never emerged until now: he was black. It turns out that the man Life magazine once described as “America’s number one intellectual fascist” was, in fact, a light-skinned African American, born in the segregated South—although he “passed” for white among the greatest race hatemongers known to mankind.

In a new book, The Colour of Fascism, Gerald Horne reveals how Dennis managed to live a lie for his entire adult life. “It’s not clear that his wife knew that he was black,” says Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston. “He certainly never told his daughter. When she asked him, he would just smile enigmatically.”…

…”Passing” was common in American society at the time. Despite laws against miscegenation, the pervasive practice of masters raping their slaves had produced a large number of light-skinned people. Under America’s rigidly enforced codes of racial supremacy, any child of a mixed-race relationship was deemed “black”, regardless of their complexion. They called it the one-drop rule: one drop of “black blood” made you black…

Read the entire article here.

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Authors Probe Roots of U.S. Far Right

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-01 19:58Z by Steven

Authors Probe Roots of U.S. Far Right

Southern Poverty Law Center
Intelligence Report
Winter 2009, Issue Number: 136

Heidi Beirich

Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant
By Jonathan Peter Spiro
Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont Press, 2009
$39.95 (hardback)

The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States
By Gerald Horne
New York: New York University Press, 2009
$22.00 (hardback)

A bumper crop of works on influential early 20th century American racists, fascists and eugenicists has been hitting the bookshelves in 2009. Two of the most interesting are on Madison Grant (1865-1937), perhaps the most important conservationist of his time and so pernicious a racist and anti-Semite that he helped inspire Hitler’s policies, and Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977), the biggest defender of fascism in the 1930s, who was, surprisingly, a black man passing for white.

Jonathan Peter Spiro’s biography of Grant, a very rich member of the American WASP elite, is eye opening. It is astonishing to realize how many major American figures of the early 1900s were so rabidly racist and anti-Semitic — and perfectly willing to use the power of the state to sterilize those they saw as lesser beings. Spiro’s book is fundamental to understanding how profoundly our nation has been shaped by racist and anti-Semitic ideas…

…Grant’s most important work, The Passing of the Great Race, was first published in 1916 by the elite Charles Scribner’s Sons. Its basic thesis, still popular among American white supremacists today, is that miscegenation and immigration were destroying America’s superior “Nordic” race. In their time, Grant’s beliefs were popular, even meriting a mention in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (the celebrated author and Grant shared the same Scribner editor).

Presaging Hitler’s infamous words, Grant called Nordics “the Master Race.” To protect that race, Grant was quite clear that restrictions curtailing Jewish and Southern European immigration were necessary. Eugenics, too, were required. He wrote that the effort should begin by sterilizing the “criminals,” the “insane” and the “diseased,” followed by the “weaklings” and, ultimately, all “worthless race types.”…

…American Fascist

Gerald Horne’s The Color of Fascism is a much slimmer volume on the unlikely career as an American fascist of Lawrence Dennis, a far-right thinker who passed as white and whose ideas are still prized today by radical right activists, including veteran anti-Semite Willis Carto.

Dennis was an interesting character. He was born in Atlanta of a black mother and white father in 1893 and was a child prodigy. Before the age of 10, Dennis wrote a book on his Christian beliefs and preached his religion to massive crowds in the U.S. and Europe—never hiding his black mother, who shepherded him around the world. But as he grew older, the light-skinned Dennis made a decision to leave his far darker-skinned mother behind and to begin to pass for white. By the 1920s, he had achieved the unthinkable for a black man of the time, graduating from Exeter and then Harvard and going on to make careers for himself in the State Department and on Wall Street, where he was one of the few who predicted the 1929 stock market crash. That prediction led to a profitable run of speaking engagements for Dennis in the 1930s and vaulted him into the upper-class social circles of the far right, where he became particularly close to Charles and Anne Lindbergh.

By the 1930s, Dennis had evolved into the public face of American fascism, making connections with American extremists and traveling to Europe to meet with Mussolini, whom he later said he was “less impressed with” than Hitler. In 1941, Dennis was named “America’s No. 1 Intellectual Fascist” by Life.

So what made Dennis an adherent of an ideology that most certainly would have oppressed him and other African Americans? Horne theorizes that Dennis may well have been attracted to fascism simply because it stood starkly opposed to American “democracy,” which then so openly oppressed blacks living under Jim Crow. He wrote often and eloquently of the impending ascendancy of the fascist model, and regularly ascribed America’s decay to its racist policies — a point that oddly seemed missed by his many racist allies…

Read the entire review here.

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Tale of a ‘Seditionist’–The Lawrence Dennis Story

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-01-22 01:22Z by Steven

Tale of a ‘Seditionist’–The Lawrence Dennis Story


Justin Raimondo

War infects and weakens our republican form of government, spreads social and political diseases throughout the body politic—but is, as Randolph Bourne put it, “the health of the State.” The State, in wartime, is glorified and empowered: the militarization of society means that all resources are mobilized and placed at the disposal of government, and all dissent, however meek and mild, must be utterly discredited if not entirely snuffed out. In wartime the benevolent mask of the “democratic” state invariably slips, and the true face of repression is revealed in all its leering ugliness…


The infamous Moscow Trials of the 1930s, staged by Stalin to cement his hold on absolute power, were the model for the effort undertaken by the US government during the war years to not only discredit its opponents but also to jail them, if at all possible. The massive roundup of Japanese, German, and Italian-Americans was a corollary to the relentless propaganda campaign that singled them out as a “fifth column” coiled and ready to strike. This massive smear campaign was also directed at the large and combative antiwar movement of the time, the America First Committee, as well as its leading spokesmen: Charles A. Lindbergh, John T. Flynn, and “isolationists” in every walk of life were singled out by the War Party and viciously attacked—and this was true especially in the arts, from the actress Lillian Gish to the poet Robinson Jeffers, and in publishing, where the editorial staffs of the major American newspapers and magazines were purged of virtually all “isolationists.” When war finally came, the War Party took its terrible revenge on all who had held out the hope of peace—and none suffered more than Lawrence Dennis, who has yet to finally receive the honor that is his due.


Lawrence Dennis was an outsider in a movement of outsiders, a unique and largely solitary figure whose career as a writer and notorious “seditionist” embodies the tragedy and bravery of the Old Right, the pre-World War IIAmerica First” generation of conservative intellectuals and activists. In many important ways, Dennis is the prototype of modern “paleo-conservatives.” His career as a controversialist and the leading American nationalist intellectual of his time charts the rise and fall of the Old Right – and, perhaps, holds a lesson for us today. Born in Atlanta in 1893, Dennis had what historian Justus Doenecke describes as “a varied career,” which included a stint as a “boy evangelist.” A recent article on Dennis in The Baffler—in which the author, transcending his own leftist politics, seems to appreciate if not fully understand his subject—informs us that he was born Lonnie Lawrence Dennis, adopted by a mulatto couple, and was undoubtedly of mixed race: his mother was black, but his father was in all probability white. To say that young Lonnie was a precocious kid is a definite understatement: by the age of five he was preaching before large audiences in Atlanta, and was soon bringing the Word to congregations around the country as “The Mulatto Boy Evangelist,” and taking his road show as far as England. He published his autobiography at the ripe old age of ten.


For Dennis to be anointed leader of a racist fifth column in America was just another irony in a life rich with them. For a supposed fellow-traveler of Hitler, Dennis hardly fit the Aryan mold. Charles A. Lindbergh, for whom Dennis is said to have written a few speeches, described him as having a “rugged,” dark-complexioned look that made him seem as if he would be more “at home at a frontier trading post.” Dennis’s archenemy, the notorious agent provocateur John Roy Carlson, noted that “Dennis’ hair is woolly, dark and kinky. The texture of his skin is unusually dark and the eyes of Hitler’s intellectual keynoter of ‘Aryanism’ are a rich deep brown, his lips fleshy.” This is the measure of what Lawrence had to endure: the man Life magazine called, in a picture caption, “America’s No. 1 intellectual Fascist . . . brain-truster for the forces of appeasement” and Hitler’s alleged pawn was almost certainly an African-American….

Read the entire article here.

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The Coming MiscegeNation?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-02-15 02:12Z by Steven

The Coming MiscegeNation?


Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Visiting Scholar
Brown University

It’s official. We’re a “miscegeNation.” The 2010 Census results are reminding us that multiracialism is not only our destiny but our reality. We’re seeing the rise of the most diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history with a record low white population—the millennials. According to The New York Times, “Young Americans are far less white than older generations, a shift that demographers say creates a culture gap with far-reaching political and social consequences.”…

…Does today’s focus on multiracialism mean that we’re finally seeing the end of racism? Or does it mean that racism has simply gone underground?

The answer depends largely on talking and to whom we talk. Many would like to believe that our comfort with categorizing people as multiracial has erased racism and the stigma of interracial relations. Here is a perfect example: In defending herself and the tea party against the NAACP’s charges of racism, Sarah Palin calls on her own multiracial family as evidence in a Facebook post titled “The Charge of Racism: It’s Time to Bury the Divisive Politics of the Past”:…

…Translation: Multiracial families bestow the skill of racial reconciliation that will result in the end of racism. What is more, multiracial families can even promote the end of race. Palin is not the only one who expresses such views. The politically correct lip service that says that multiracial individuals and families are not racist and naturally racially progressive abounds in the press and blogosphere.

This sexy-but-flawed way of thinking is based totally on appearances. Because of our nation’s history of slavery, segregation and interment, racism is conflated with physical racial separation. As a consequence racial progress is conflated with racial mixing. Multiracial individuals and interracial families are touted as icons of racial healing because they are thought to have special insights based on what they are—mixed. In his 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech, President Obama addressed how absurd this kind of thinking is. He said that his grandmother “once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” The president also implied that the idea of multiracials ending racism ignores the fact that interracial romantic relationships still experience higher rates of failure and divorce than same-sex relationships (i.e., his own parents’ divorce; Halle Berry’s and Gabriel Aubry’s custody battle over their daughter, Nahla).

If we still think that being multiracial or being part of a multiracial family automatically ends racism, then we must consider the cases of Lawrence Dennis and Leo Felton. Dennis, the multiracial right-wing fascist, was charged with sedition for allegedly seeking to establish a Nazi regime in the U.S. during World War II. Felton, a multiracial white supremacist, was convicted of bank robbery and plotting to blow up Jewish and African-American landmarks around Boston. The child of an interracial couple, Felton wrote a letter in which he criticized his parents and said he is “an unrepentant enemy of the multicultural myth.” Multiracial backgrounds did not encourage these men to become racial healers…

Read the entire article here.

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