Acclaimed writer Murray receives legacy award
HARLEM, N.Y. (August 24, 2011) — Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon on Aug. 20 presented acclaimed writer and Tuskegee alumnus Albert Murray with the Booker T. Washington Legacy Award at his home. Murray and others were named recipients of the award for excellence and dedication in their respective fields in January during activities for Rochon’s inauguration as the sixth president of Tuskegee.
Murray, a native of Nokomis, Ala., is a literary and jazz critic, novelist, and biographer. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1939. He received his master’s degree in literature from New York University in 1948.
|Acclaimed writer and alumnus Albert
Murray received the Booker T.
Washington Legacy Award from
Tuskegee University President
Gilbert L. Rochon at Murray's home
in Harlem, N.Y.
Murray taught English and American literature, and directed theater at Tuskegee. After the outbreak of World War II, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and served until 1946. After the war, he transferred to the U.S. Air Force Reserve and returned to teach at Tuskegee, where he also served as head of the ROTC program for four years. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of major in 1962. He then moved to New York to settle into a writing career.
Murray, who had a mutually influential friendship with another Tuskegee student, Ralph Ellison (they formed a friendship years after college), published his first book, The Omni-Americans in 1970. In his writings, Murray presents an authentic analysis of African-American life as he has known and lived it. As he does so, he neither ignores nor apologizes for the negative elements that cause people to define blacks as social problems — elements such as the poverty and crime resulting from a long tradition of slavery, segregation, discrimination and racism. However, he does strongly challenge the negative, oversimplified images that both blacks and whites represent as the common experience of all African-Americans.
Murray has had a distinguished career as writer, teacher, and lecturer at universities that include Colgate University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Berlin. The Houghton Library of Harvard University recently purchased Murray’s papers.
Murray is one of the original founders and a board member of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has received numerous honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the DuBois Medal from the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.
At their October 2004 meeting, the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to place the donated books and writings of Murray in the Rare Book Room of the Ford Motor Company Library under the name of “The Albert Murray Collection.”