Harry Golden historical marker

Harry Golden 1902-1981 (L-112)

Nationally known writer, humorist, & civil rights advocate. Published The Carolina Israelite, 1944-1968. Lived 1 block N.E.

Location: Seventh Street at Hawthorne Street in Charlotte
County: Mecklenburg
Original Date Cast: 2011

Harry Golden achieved fame as publisher of The Carolina Israelite, which he issued from 1944 to 1968 from Charlotte to an international audience. According to Robin Brabham, retired UNC-Charlotte archivist, “At the height of his appeal, he had two books on the bestseller list at the same time; his life was depicted in a Broadway play; he appeared frequently on television talk shows, including Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person; and he testified before Congress on civil rights legislation.”

Golden used humor and satire to oppose Southern racial and political practices. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized his significance by identifying him as one of “our white brothers who have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it.”

Golden was born Herschel Goldhirsch in the Ukraine, then part of Austria-Hungary. In 1904 his father and his oldest brother immigrated and soon after sent for the rest of the family. Golden grew up in a tenement on New York City’s Lower East Side and attended City College. He married Genevieve Gallagher in 1926, and they had four sons.

Failed business ventures led to his guilty plea to mail fraud in October 1929. Sentenced to five years in federal prison, he was released in 1933. In 1941, he moved south, first to Norfolk, then to Charlotte where he worked for the Charlotte Labor Journal, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Golden issued the first regular number of The Carolina Israelite in February 1944. The monthly magazine initially carried the subtitle, “A Monthly Review of Jewish Affairs, Dedicated to Interfaith Amity.”

In 1955 Golden addressed the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association on “The Jewish People of North Carolina.” He came to national attention in 1956 after he testified before the Pearsall Commission that white Southerners did not seem to mind standing with African Americans: “It is only when the Negro ‘sets’ that the fur begins to fly.” Thus, he suggested, public schools could be painlessly integrated by providing desks but no seats. He went on to suggest sixteen more plans that mocked Southern racial mores.

Wide circulation of his “Vertical Negro Plan” soon generated interest in his writing and in 1958 a compilation of his columns, Only in America, appeared on the best seller list. He advised Robert Kennedy in his 1964 and 1968 campaigns for the U. S. Senate and the Democratic presidential nomination. He continued to publish the Israelite until 1968 when he closed the paper. In 1979 he received the North Carolina Award for Literature. He is buried in Hebrew Cemetery in Charlotte.

Robin Brabham, Essay on Harry Golden prepared for Wikipedia
Harry Golden Papers, Atkins Library, UNC-Charlotte: https://findingaids.uncc.edu/repositories/4/resources/204
Harry Golden, Only in America (1958), (1959), Carl Sandburg (1961), and The Right Time (1969)
R.A. Hohner, “The Other Harry Golden: Harry Goldhurst & the Cannon Scandals,” North Carolina Historical Review (April 1988): 154-72
Leonard Rogoff, Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina (2010)
New York Times (1981) obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/10/03/obituaries/harry-golden-an-editor-an…

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