Roi Ottley was a student at St.
Bonaventure University from 1926-1928. Although he came to St.
Bonaventure on a track and field scholarship, Ottley turned out to be
much more than a great runner. In his two years at St.
Bonaventure, the young Ottley was able to display his academic, athletic
and artistic abilities in a variety of ways.
One of the first blacks ever to attend St.
Bonaventure, Ottley was an exceptional student. He also worked as
a writer and cartoonist for the The Bona Venture and The
Laurel. His time at St. Bonaventure was cut short however,
when he decided to transfer to the University of Michigan to pursue a
career in journalism. Ottley stayed at Michigan for only one year
though, before returning home to New York City.
As a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, war-correspondent, and author of
several best-selling books, Roi Ottley was, in the words of Ernest
Hemingway, "One of the outstanding Negro writers of
America." His 1943 book, New World A-Coming won the coveted
Peabody Award as well as the Life in America Award. His
other books, Black Odyssey, No Green Pastures, White
Marble Lady, The Lonely Warrior, and The Negro in New York
all examined issues concerning race. In 1944, Ottley traveled to
Europe where he became known as "the first Negro war correspondent
to write for a major paper." He covered the events of World
War II on a day to basis for several major newspapers.
The Roi Ottley Collection at St. Bonaventure University has a
significant amount of Ottley's original work including the first drafts
of his books, and a 194 page journal that he kept while he was overseas
covering World War II which was finally published in 2011. This website is devoted to the life and achievements of Roi