Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2022
This chapter examines the period between the publication of Invisible Man and the early 1970s (roughly the period defined by the Civil Rights movement) when Ralph Ellison crafted his strategy for how he would define and occupy the public role he found himself and his work suddenly placed. While Ellison is sometimes seen as being politically distant, particularly relative to the Civil Rights movement, the chapter argues that the counter-narrative that Ellison constructed and maintained was that it was his art itself that defined a political stance rather than the other way around. For Ellison, politics discouraged the production of true art rather than stimulated it. During the Civil Rights years, Ellison employed this thinking to move away from focusing on the unique historical experiences of African Americans to a broader emphasis on cultural hybridity.