Albert Murray, an essayist, critic and novelist who influenced the national discussion about race by challenging Black separatism, insisting that the Black experience was essential to American culture and inextricably tied to it, died on Sunday at his home in Harlem. He was 97.
Lewis P. Jones, a family spokesman and executor of Mr. Murray’s estate, confirmed the death.
Mr. Murray was one of the last surviving links to a period of flowering creativity and spreading ferment among the Black intelligentsia in postwar America, when the growing force of the civil rights movement gave rise to new bodies of thought about Black identity, Black political power and the prospects for equality in a society with a history of racism.
As Blacks and Whites clashed in the streets, Black integrationists and Black nationalists dueled in the academy and in books and essays. And Mr. Murray was in the middle of the debate, along with writers and artists including James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Romare Bearden and his good friend Ralph Ellison.