Item #1842 [AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING TO USSR] Negritenok Dzhon [i.e. Negro Boy John]. A. Matutis.
[AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING TO USSR] Negritenok Dzhon [i.e. Negro Boy John]
[AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING TO USSR] Negritenok Dzhon [i.e. Negro Boy John]
[AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING TO USSR] Negritenok Dzhon [i.e. Negro Boy John]

[AFRICAN-AMERICANS COMING TO USSR] Negritenok Dzhon [i.e. Negro Boy John]

[Vilnius]: Gos. izd-vo khud. lit. [1951]. Item #1842

28 pp.: ill. 26x21 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Very good, spine and covers rubbed, some stains occasionally.

First edition. Rare. Loose translation from Lithuanian by N. Milovanov, illustrations by N. Sergeeva.
A great example of Soviet propaganda in children’s books about how life in the Soviet Union is equal for all races and nationalities.
A children’s book of poetry Anzel’mas Matutis (1923-1985), writer and founder of children’s literature in Lithuania. It is solely dedicated to African-American boy named John York and consists of several poems about his life and travels. The first poem is about America, it describes hardships of poor life and African-American life in the USA (his father works in the mine, his mother was killed by white ‘master’). In other poem John and his father read the communist brochure, and John begins to dream about this far away country where there are no wealthy people, no police and one doesn’t have to be scared.
Another poem describes a communist rally in New York where John’s father was killed by the policeman. Through next poems we learn that John was stolen by white man and now he has to perform in the circus. He continues to suffer through a series of horrible events but then he finds himself saved by the Soviet navy who bring him to the USSR. In Moscow John becomes a pioneer, goes to school and is treated equally like everybody else: “John lives in the USSR,/ In that country/ Where everyone is equal,/ In that country/ Where everyone is a friend’. Of course all poems are imbued with anti-capitalist and communist propaganda, the book itself is a great example of how many children’s books were supposed to teach younger generations about unjust West and utopian USSR.
African-Americans began to appear in Russia during the industrialization of the 1930s, when a large number of engineers from leading Western companies were invited from abroad, foreign trade and large-scale deliveries of modern industrial equipment and technology were established, and also, with the help of qualified foreign specialists, a domestic system of higher technical education was created. Naturally, some of the engineers, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals who came from the United States were African Americans. Sometimes they started families and stayed forever. The general economic and emotional and psychological upsurge of the country against the contrasting background of the Great Depression in Western countries, as well as the strong ideological orientation in the USSR towards proletarian internationalism contributed to the establishment of some African-American specialists in the USSR: unlike the United States, African-Americans were not subjected to targeted racial discrimination here, rather vice versa. Most African Americans who moved to Russia were looking for a better life, tired of the social inequality and despair that tore apart the country during the Great Depression. Over the years, the attitude towards them has changed. During the reign of Joseph Stalin, all foreigners were treated with suspicion, therefore all who were not citizens of the Soviet Union had to leave the country. However, in the 1960s, attitudes towards them changed after thousands of students from Africa arrived in the Union.

Not found in Worldcat.

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