Ramon. b. January 30, 1915, Seattle, Washington; African
American; Attended the University of California, Berkeley 2 years; Prior
service in the US Navy; Single (Married Nurse Rebecca Schulman in Spain);
Student; CP 1933 (1935); received passport# 25803 San Francisco series on March
20, 1937 which listed his address as 1738 Milvia Street, Berkeley, California;
Sailed March 31, 1937 aboard the Aquitania;
Arrived in Spain on April 29, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN,
Lincoln-Washington BN. WIA Brunete. After recovery was retained by Villa Paz
Hospital as a clerk; Returned to BDE during
the Retreats; Last unit
Lincoln-Washington BN, Co. 1, rank Soldado; Served through Ebro Offensive;
Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia; WWII Civilian; d. December 17, 1963, Los Angeles,
California; Post Spain he wrote poetry and identified himself as an African
Sail, SACB, Cadre, Pay, RA, Pacific NW, Ancestry.
Photograph: Becky Shulman Durem and Ramon Durem with their daughter, Dolores, The Passionate War; Ramon Durem in Spain, RA Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 884.
Born in 1915 in Seattle, Washington, Ramon Durem left home at fourteen and joined the Navy. Discharged following an injury to a leg, Durem worked as a laborer along the West Coast. He eventually enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley and joined the Communist party in 1931. Active in various radical causes on campus, Durem was arrested for picketing against silk imports from Japan. Durem left for Europe, aboard the Aquitania, on March 31, 1937. During the Brunete Offensive, an enemy bullet struck Durem in the same leg that had been injured in the Navy. While recuperating at the American base hospital at Villa Paz, Durem met, courted and married a nurse from Brooklyn, Rebecca Schulman. In the summer of 1938 when the front lines broke and the hospital had to be evacuated, Durem returned to the XVth Brigade and served throughout the remainder of the Retreats and the Ebro Offensive. Durem was among the Americans who participated in the farewell parade in Barcelona and returned to the United States aboard the Ausonia on December 20, 1938. Durem and his wife moved to Los Angeles where they had three daughters. Durem continued to be an active union organizer and was arrested on a number of occasions. During the 1940s Durem discovered an African American identity. He separated from his wife, remarried--this time to an African American woman--and moved his new family to Guadalajara, Mexico in order to escape government harassment. In 1962 Durem and his family returned to reside in Los Angeles. In the late 1940s Durem began writing poetry under the name of "Ray Durem." His poems were first published in the Crusader, a journal edited by Robert Williams, the North Carolina-based Black Nationalist leader who in the 1960s was forced into exile in Cuba and China. Other poems were published in the literary journals Phylon and Venture and in the Herald Dispatch newspaper. Durem's early poems attracted the interest of Langston Hughes, and in the mid-1950s Hughes tried unsuccessfully to help Durem secure a publisher. Hughes did include one of Durem's poems in the anthology New Negro Poets: USA. In the early 1960s Durem saw selections of his poetry published in the Heritage anthology Sixes and Sevens and in the New York literary magazine Umbra 2. A volume of Durem's poetry entitled Take No Prisoners (1971) was published in London posthumously. In 1963, at the age of forty-eight, Ray Durem died of cancer in Los Angeles. ~ Chris Brooks
ALB Archival Materials
Becky Shulman Durem and Ramon Durem with their daughter, Dolores. (The Passionate War).
Full Database Record