African Press International (API)

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How Barack Obama met Chicago poet/union activist Davis

Posted by African Press International on November 29, 2008

November 29, 2008

The Dream Begins: How Hawai’i Shaped Barack Obama is the first book to explore President-elect Barack Obama’s friendship with Chicago union organizer-poet Frank Marshall Davis.

In 1948, Davis, an African American, and his wife, a white Chicago socialite named Helen Canfield Davis, visited Hawaii on a tip from Paul Robeson. They stayed the rest of their lives. Davis had been an editor with the Associated Negro Press in Chicago and wrote for the Gary (Ind.) American. In Hawaii, he became a champion of ethnic union workers while living in “The Waikiki Jungle” — a cluster of dense housing near the Diamond Head end of Waikiki.

“Barry’s grandfather brought him here to see Davis,” author Stu Glauberman says during a drive through the neighborhood.

Davis was an ally of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that was organizing Hawaii’s plantations and docks.


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