AU and Tuskegee University to hold national symposium on author and social critic Albert Murray

Albert Murray

AUBURN – Auburn University and Tuskegee University will present a symposium to celebrate the life and works of Alabama native and Tuskegee University graduate Albert Murray on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

A gathering of scholars, protégés and friends of Murray’s will present papers related to his life and works in a series of sessions from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Nationally acclaimed scholar John F. Callahan of Lewis and Clark College will present the keynote address at 7 p.m.

Murray, born in Nokomis, Ala., in 1916, is widely recognized as a pivotal figure in American literature and culture and a leading light in jazz and the blues. He was cofounder with Wynton Marsalis of Jazz at Lincoln Center. His works include “The Omni-Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and American Culture,” “South to a Very Old Place,” “The Hero and the Blues” and “Train Whistle Guitar.” He received the Distinguished Artist Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2003. For more information on Murray, go to .

Callahan, a Ralph Ellison scholar, will deliver the keynote address, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing: Albert Murray, Omni-American.” The lecture is about the lifelong friendship, begun at Tuskegee Institute in the 1930s, of Murray and Ellison. Ellison won the National Book Award for “Invisible Man,” considered among the most important novels of the 20th century.

Callahan is the editor of “Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.” The publication sheds light on the long intellectual relationship of the two men and shows how each developed his blues-oriented theory of American identity.

Sponsors for the symposium are the dean’s office in AU’s College of Liberal Arts, the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in AU’s College of Liberal Arts, the AU Department of English and Tuskegee University.

The public is invited to attend both the symposium and the lecture, but those interested are asked to register online at For more information on the symposium, go to or call (334) 844-4946.

Contact: Mark Wilson, (334) 844-4946 (, or
Mike Clardy,(334) 844-9999 (