Wallace Henry Thurman: The Man Who Penned the Expression “The Blacker the Berry”


Wallace Henry Thurman, an African-American writer who is best known for his many contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 16, 1902. His father abandoned the family shortly after Thurman’s birth, and his mother married and divorced various times. His mother often sent him to stay with his grandmother, who was known to run an illegal bar out of her home. Thurman stayed sick a lot during his youth. Although he dropped out of school due to illness and heart attacks, his health eventually improved over the years and he was able to finish high school in Salt Lake City. Thurman later attended the University of Utah and the University of Southern California, but never received a degree from either institution.

Thurman got a job working as a newspaper reporter while living in Los Angeles, California, and later went on to be the founder of a magazine, “Outlet”. It is said the magazine was the West Coast’s equivalent to the NAACP publication of “The Crisis.” After living in California for a few years, Thurman made the decision to relocate to Harlem, New York in 1925. For the next 10 years he spent his life as an editor and writer of novels, plays and articles. Thurman often argued that African-American artists should embrace expression on their own terms, rather than as a way of appealing to Anglo-American respectability.

Thurman often held meetings at his apartment for Black authors and artists. He referred to the room in which they sat around and collaborated the “Niggerati Manor” which was painted black and red with murals on the walls. Some of Thurman’s most famous work include Harlem, a play that debuted on Broadway in 1929, and the novels The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929) and Infants of the Spring (1932). Thurman also wrote under the names Patrick Casey and Ethel B. Thurman died in New York City on December 22, 1934, at the age of 32 due to tuberculosis.




  • Jamie tyrus June 22, 2019 - 11:45 pm

    I would love to be able to recieve more about our plight we need desperately to show our youth more of our history.

  • Antoine Voss June 23, 2019 - 7:09 am

    Walter H. Thurman, apperantley was an prolific writer although he was never conferred a degree by The University of Southern California. With his publication of a magazine equilavent to the NAACP ‘s , The Crisis, and editor W.E.B Dubois, Mr. Thurman was a pillar among pillars. I would desire too learn more about him.

  • Shirley Simmons June 23, 2019 - 10:39 am

    I always heard my Mother use that phrase blacker the berry but she would always say sweeter the juice ? I love hearing more about our people’s accomplishments so much was never taught in the schools that I attended I learnt from Brothers, Auntie’s, Uncle’s during a family reunions that we held for over 200 years please keep this healthy, knowledge coming???

  • Yvette Hough June 23, 2019 - 11:06 am

    I’m wondering if he is related to Howard Thurman who greatly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. & others in the Civil Rights movement?

    • Essie White June 23, 2019 - 12:56 pm

      Yvette Hough yesss, I wonder too??

  • Carl Butcher June 23, 2019 - 8:43 pm

    I hope you find more black history this is something big a never taught in high schools now the truth comes out I hope that everyone reads about black history because the history they show in high school is a pack of lies

  • Sharon June 25, 2019 - 5:01 am

    The “Niggeratti” sounds a lot like’ The “Illuminati”. I find Thurmond very interesting. My grandfather is a Thurmond. I must explore this man a little more in depth.

  • Cynt Johnson June 25, 2019 - 1:03 pm

    Very interesting information,like to see more articles about Blacks that we have never heard of.