The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

Marxist Criticism of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 College

Marxist Criticism of The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Christopher Paul Curtis certainly makes a point to address class in his telling of the Watsons’ story, but beyond this, The Watsons Go to Birmingham carries more direct allusions to specifically Marxism. The novel chronicles a snapshot in the lives of the Watson family in Flint, Michigan up to and including their summer trip down to Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The trip coincides with the historic bombing of a Black church—a cataclysmic tragedy that critically impacted the Civil Rights Movement. Curtis writes the story in such a way that seems to naturally carry Marxist overtones, not necessarily in a sense that supports Marxist ideology but, rather, in a sense that more deeply illustrates the complexities of White America’s angst in the struggle of race relations.

The novel is set in the year 1963, and this year marks arguably the dead-center of a period in American history when citizens and government alike were madly disquieted by the threat of Communism, which is a socioeconomic ideology inclusive of Marxism and several other schools of thought (e.g. anarchism, general anti-capitalist perspectives, etc.). From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, J. Edgar Hoover’s special,...

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