50 Black Writers Whose Impact Went Beyond the Page

African American authors have created a wealthy physique of literature: fiction and nonfiction, essays, poetry, scholarly articles and extra. The narratives they’ve added to American storytelling have shifted views and prompted recent conversations; their writing has formed how the Black expertise is considered and understood in America by readers of all races and backgrounds.

In the nineteenth century, African American literature was pushed by narratives of slavery, many instructed from the perspective of escaped slaves resembling Harriet Jacobs or Frederick Douglass. In the Twenties, as Black artists and intellectuals emerged following the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance produced a era of authors who addressed problems with racism and segregation. By the center of the century, Black authors performed an necessary function in laying the basis for political actions resembling civil rights, Black energy, and Black nationalism. Many feminist authors, like Mary Ann Weathers and Audre Lorde, emerged as properly. Black feminist thinkers established the mode of research of intersectionality, laying an necessary basis for the trendy feminist motion.

Novelists like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, who wrote best-sellers and gained prestigious awards, have accelerated the consideration paid to African American authors, and Black intellectuals like Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Colson Whitehead are integral figures in American tradition.

To have fun these contributions to American life and thought, Stacker put collectively a gallery that includes 50 influential African American writers. If you are in search of necessary and provoking works, begin right here.

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Toni Morrison

Among quite a few accolades, Toni Morrison was the first Black girl to win the (*50*) and the first Black girl to be an editor at Random House. She is most well-known for her novel Beloved, the story of an escaped enslaved girl who makes the painful resolution to kill her daughter to stop her re-enslavement. Slate columnist Laura Miller wrote of Morrison that she “reshaped the landscape of literature” with tales that “no different novelist, Black or white, tried.”

Anna J. Cooper

Author and Black liberation activist Anna J. Cooper was born into slavery in the 1850s but earned a doctorate in historical past from the University of Paris, changing into the fourth African American woman in history to get a doctorate. The early American scholar, who is usually known as “the mom of Black feminism,” was the first author to debate ideas of feminist intersectionality, although it wasn’t known as that at the time. (The phrase was coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.) Cooper’s 1892 assortment of essays is known as A Voice from the South. Cooper was a “radical name for a model of racial uplift that centered Black girls and women,” according to Naomi Extra of Vice.

James Baldwin

Best identified for his essays on race, class, and sexuality (though he additionally wrote novels and performs), James Baldwin was a number one voice of the American civil rights motion. As one in all the few overtly homosexual Black activists of this period (together with Bayard Rustin), he fought for LGBTQ+ rights alongside the rights of African Americans. The celebrated creator wrote his first play earlier than the age of 11; his teacher directed it at his elementary college. His most well-known works embody Notes of a Native Son and I Am Not Your Negro.

Gwendolyn Brooks

The first African American to obtain the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for her 1949 assortment Annie Allen), Gwendolyn Brooks was a revered poet and creator. The poems in her most well-known and critically acclaimed ebook detailed the lifetime of a younger Black woman in Chicago as she grows up and turns into a lady. She’s been praised broadly for her work: “Because her poems and fiction are so fascinating and trustworthy to the Black expertise, consequently the human expertise, Gwendolyn Brooks will proceed to be learn and be alive,” wrote Angela Jackson for LitHub.

Elizabeth Keckley

After working as a seamstress and private dresser to President Abraham Lincoln’s spouse, first woman Mary Todd Lincoln, former enslaved girl Elizabeth Keckley wrote a memoir titled, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. The ebook detailed her time in the White House and was criticized by some for revealing non-public details about the Lincolns. In addition to her affect round the White House, the creator based a company known as the Contraband Relief Association that supplied sources like meals, garments, and housing to freed slaves.

Robert Abbott

Robert Abbott’s contribution to African American political discourse cannot be overstated. In addition to including his personal articles to the public dialog, the early Twentieth-century journalist based The Chicago Defender in 1905, a weekly Black newspaper that lined points related to African Americans at the time. In his personal writing, he instructed fascinating tales and inspired Black folks in the South emigrate to the North. “Without Abbott, there could be no Essence, no Jet (and its Beauty of the Week), no ‘Black Enterprise,’” Martenzie Johnson wrote for “The Undefeated.”

Richard Wright

Richard Wright, well-known for his memoir Black Boy and the novel Native Son, amongst others, is usually ranked amongst the most influential Black writers of the 20th century. In addition to the huge impression of his personal work, he additionally mentored different writers, amongst them James Baldwin. “I had recognized myself with him lengthy earlier than we met,” Baldwin said after his death. “In a way in no way metaphysical, his instance had helped me to outlive. He was Black, he was younger, he had come out of Mississippi and the Chicago slums, and he was a author. He proved it could possibly be executed—proved it to me, and gave me an arm in opposition to all the others who assured me it couldn’t be executed.”

Malcolm X

Often credited with kicking off the Black energy motion, Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little; he modified his identify in jail after becoming a member of the Nation of Islam, explaining that he rejected the surname handed all the way down to him by the “white slavemaster.” The Autobiography of Malcolm X—which he collaborated on with creator Alex Haley—was “one in all the most influential books in late-Twentieth-century American tradition,” according to cultural historian Howard Bruce Franklin. The vocal Muslim activist, who supported the separation of Blacks and whites (to not be confused with segregation), is usually contrasted with Martin Luther King Jr., who advocated for full integration. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965.

Octavia Butler

Commonly thought of the “foremost Black woman in sci-fi literature,” Octavia Butler, the creator of Bloodchild and different common science-fiction books, was the first sci-fi author to ever get a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Her books include radical visions of race and energy. Her life’s work had an impression not solely on her style however in the manner she inspired and mentored younger science-fiction writers of coloration. “Her legacy is bigger than simply herself or her particular person work, greater than anybody most likely can think about proper now,” creator Ayana Jamieson instructed NBC News.

Toni Cade Bambara

Along with works resembling The Salt Eaters, Gorilla, My Love, and The Sea Birds Are Still Alive, Toni Cade Bambara was celebrated for her social consciousness and dedication to creating literature accessible. When her ebook The Black Woman got here out, for instance, she urged her writer to maintain the value reasonably priced in order that Black girls from all kinds of financial backgrounds might learn it. According to Shondaland writer Lyndsey Ellis, she “helped create the recipe for Black love and unity as we all know it right now.”

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

Although he revealed his first ebook in 2008—and actually solely grew to become broadly identified after 2015’s Between the World and Me—Ta-Nehisi Coates has swiftly turn out to be one in all the most influential voices amongst trendy African American writers. He gained a following throughout his years as a author for The Atlantic and has now written 4 books in addition to the Black Panther comedian ebook sequence. His work contributes considerably to the present dialog round reparations, systemic racism, and white supremacy.

Frances Harper

Called the “mother of African American journalism,” Frances Harper had an extended profession that started with a ebook of poetry and ended half a century later with the publication of her extremely acclaimed novel Iola Leroy in 1892. The abolitionist and suffragist, who was herself born free, took nice dangers to assist escaped enslaved folks navigate the Underground Railroad on their path to freedom. She’s additionally identified for refusing to surrender her seat on a segregated trolley automobile—100 years earlier than Rosa Parks grew to become well-known for the same protest.

James Weldon Johnson

In addition to authoring The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and quite a few poetry collections, James Weldon Johnson was an early chief of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The human rights activist labored as a U.S. consul underneath President Theodore Roosevelt and taught literature at the traditionally Black school Fisk University, extending his impression on America far past the web page.

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was a journalist and activist who introduced consideration to the lynchings in the United States in the late nineteenth and early Twentieth century. Among quite a few items of investigative journalism, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases uncovered lots of the merciless racist practices of the time, drawing specific consideration to the political and financial motivations behind them. The previously enslaved girl, who was freed underneath the Emancipation Proclamation, co-owned the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper and was one in all the founders of the NAACP.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Born to beforehand enslaved dad and mom, poet and playwright Paul Laurence Dunbar was identified for his use of the “Negro dialect” in his writing. Among different accomplishments, he wrote the lyrics for 1903’s In Dahomey, the first all-Black Broadway musical. His good friend, fellow author James Weldon Johnson, praised his writing: “He was the first to rise to a height from which he might take a perspective view of his personal race,” Johnson said. “He was the first to see objectively its humor, its superstitions, its short-comings; the first to really feel sympathetically its heart-wounds, its yearnings, its aspirations, and to voice all of them in a purely literary type.”

Langston Hughes

A star of the Harlem Renaissance (then generally known as the “New Negro Movement”), Langston Hughes wrote critically acclaimed poems, novels, and performs, along with insightful weekly columns in The Chicago Defender. He was an early creator of jazz poetry and one in all the first Black authors capable of efficiently earn an earnings from his writing. “Fifty years after his demise, Hughes’ extraordinary lyricism resonates with energy to folks,” wrote David C. Ward for Smithsonian Magazine.

Ishmael Reed

A satirist, Ishmael Reed’s writing has known as consideration to severe points in American political tradition through humor and parody. He’s additionally written at the very least 10 novels and quite a lot of poems, performs, and essays. In the Sixties, Reed co-founded the underground East Village Other and was a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, which helped launch the Black arts motion. His most well-known writing is the 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo.

Maya Angelou

The creator of seven autobiographies, together with a number of books of poetry and essays, Maya Angelou has had a profound impact on the dialogue round race in America. She was impressed to put in writing her most well-known ebook—I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings—amid a deep despair following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Fellow creator James Baldwin, who was a good friend, helped her editor persuade her to write it: “Baldwin instructed (Random House editor Robert) Loomis that with the intention to get Angelou to do something, you need to inform her she will be able to’t do it,” wrote Bené Viera for Timeline. “The reverse psychology labored. She remoted herself in London and commenced writing.” It was an immediate best-seller that is now taught in excessive faculties and faculties.

Rosa Parks

Although Rosa Parks is most well-known for her function as an activist throughout the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she additionally wrote an autobiography, in addition to quite a lot of notes that had been later revealed. In the latter, she mentioned how fierce the stress was for African Americans to fall into line and never rock the boat, noting that it required a “major mental acrobatic feat” to outlive throughout that period. “She refused to normalize the skill to perform underneath American racism,” wrote Jeanne Theoharis for The Washington Post.

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka was an outspoken creator, poet, and playwright who advocated for Black nationalism and Marxism. His impression unfold past his writing as he launched Harlem’s Black arts motion (BAM) in the Sixties, a number of many years after the Harlem Renaissance. Although undoubtedly influential, he was additionally a controversial figure, significantly relating to his stance on homosexuality, which condemned the habits.

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James Cone

James Cone has been known as the most important theologian of his time. His 1969 ebook Black Theology and Black Power aligned the philosophies of the Black energy motion with the Black church, arguing that Jesus’ message was no totally different than the political motion with each advocating for the liberation of the oppressed. “Cone upended the theological institution along with his vigorous articulation of God’s radical identification with Black folks in the United States,” wrote the Union Seminary. “His eloquent portrayal of Christ’s Blackness shattered dominant white theological paradigms, and ignited a wave of subsequent American liberation theologies.”

Lorraine Hansberry

Author of the well-known play A Raisin in the Sun—which has been known as “one in all the most necessary performs ever written about Chicago”—Lorraine Hansberry was the first Black female playwright to have her script carried out on Broadway. Hansberry is the inspiration for Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”

Alex Haley

Famous for his 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley is usually credited for kickstarting curiosity in family tree and delight in African roots amongst Black folks in America in the Nineteen Seventies. This was additionally partly accountable for the rising desire at the time of the time period African American, according to novelist Charles Johnson. In addition to Roots, Haley additionally authored The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a seminal work in African American literature and political dialogue.

Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama is an achieved creator. Dreams From My Father, which he revealed in 1995 earlier than his first Senate marketing campaign, was a broadly acclaimed ebook that Time columnist Joe Klein said, “could also be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.” In 2006, The Audacity of Hope grew to become No. 1 on The New York Times and Amazon best-sellers lists. His newest ebook, 2020’s A Promised Land, focuses on his first time period as president; it is the first of two deliberate books, the subsequent of which is able to cowl his second time period.

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell was a number one suffragist and civil rights activist. Born in 1863 to freed enslaved individuals who later grew to become a part of the late nineteenth century’s rising Black higher class, her dad and mom “used their position to fight racial discrimination.” She was a graduate of Oberlin College—one in all the first African American girls to obtain a university diploma—and labored as a journalist underneath the pen identify Euphemia Kirk. She wrote for The Washington Post, Washington Evening Star, and The Chicago Defender, amongst others, and detailed her personal expertise with racism in her 1940 autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World.

Frank Marshall Davis

Journalist, poet, and activist Frank Marshall Davis was a part of a author’s group—together with different well-known authors like Richard Wright and Margaret Walker—that later got here to be generally known as the Black Chicago Renaissance. In addition to writing about race and tradition, he lined jazz and music historical past. Davis was well-known in his personal proper for his many literary accomplishments, although right now he is usually remembered for his affiliation with President Barack Obama, who wrote about him in Dreams From my Father.

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a contemporary author and feminist who’s had an unlimited impression on the literary world and feminist thought in the final decade. Her 2014 assortment of essays, Bad Feminist, was a extremely praised New York Times best-seller, which she adopted up with two quick story collections, a novel, and the memoir Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Marisa Meltzer of Elle called Gay a “go-to voice on the ever-roiling entrance line of gender, race, and politics, and, maybe most of all, the embodiment of intersectionality.”

W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois, who’s been known as “one of the most influential thinkers and activists of the 19th and 20th centuries,” was an creator and civil rights activist who led the Niagara Movement, an equal rights group in the early Twentieth century, and was a founding father of the NAACP. The creator, who was the first African American to earn a doctoral diploma from Harvard University, is greatest identified for Black Reconstruction in America, a groundbreaking historic narrative that reframed the Reconstruction Era and credited Black folks with the “shaping of their own destiny.”

Michelle Obama

The former president is not the solely Obama who’s written a best-selling and extremely influential memoir. First woman Michelle Obama additionally made a big impact with Becoming, an insightful and deeply private look again on her earlier years in addition to her time at the White House. In 2018, the book broke records in 15 days, promoting extra copies than every other ebook revealed in the United States that yr. On high of her accolades as an creator, Michelle Obama has impacted the American public by visiting homeless shelters, advocating for public well being campaigns, and championing girls’s rights.

William Wells Brown

A author, lecturer, abolitionist, and human proper activist all rolled into one, William Wells Brown had an amazing impression on America in the nineteenth century. In addition to his pioneering work as a journey author, the escaped slave was an esteemed playwright—the first African American to be published in several genres, in reality. He was additionally the creator of an intensive historic account of Black folks throughout the Revolutionary War.

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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and girls’s rights activist identified for her advocacy work; nonetheless, she additionally made a number of notable contributions to the written phrase. Although she could not learn and write herself, the escaped enslaved girl labored together with her good friend Olive Gilbert and fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison on a memoir that resulted in 1850’s The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: a Northern Slave. The ebook, mixed together with her highly effective speech generally known as Ain’t I a Woman, each helped form the dialogue round abolition at the time—and in 2014, Smithsonian Magazine listed her as one in all the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”

Booker T. Washington

There’s little doubt that Booker T. Washington—a former enslaved man and adviser to a number of presidents—had a big impact on nineteenth and early Twentieth-century politics, although some have argued as as to whether his affect was optimistic. The African American neighborhood chief, who led Tuskegee University, wrote 5 books with a ghostwriter together with The Story of My Life and Work and Up From Slavery. Washington was criticized for failing to challenge Jim Crow segregation.

Phillis Wheatley

Among many accomplishments, Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book of poems. The acclaimed poet was born in West Africa in 1753 and bought into slavery as a toddler. After her enslavers taught her to learn and write, she wrote poems about the American Revolution that had been later used to assist abolition. “Wheatley was not alive to see her poetry make a consequential impression on the abolition of slavery,” wrote Dillon Hartigan of Southern Methodist University. “However, years after the Great Awakening was over and folks understood its that means, Wheatley’s poems had been used to battle Southern views in direction of slavery.”

Claude McKay

Poet Claude McKay, a Jamaican immigrant and central determine in the Harlem Renaissance, is legendary for his novel Home to Harlem which gained the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, and different works that influenced later poets like Langston Hughes, shaping how they might use their voice. According to Study.com, McKay “paved the manner for Black poets to debate the circumstances and racism that they confronted of their poems.”

Ntozake Shange

Black feminism owes an amazing deal to Ntozake Shange, a poet and playwright who handled subjects of race, sexism, and Black energy. She’s greatest identified for her 1976 play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf which gained a prestigious Obie Award. On high of writing accolades, Shange is responsible for creating the choreopoem and coining the time period, which describes a efficiency artwork that blends music and dancing with phrases.

Zora Neale Hurston

In addition to her highly effective novels which have garnered myriad accolades, Zora Neale Hurston is remembered as a key determine in the Harlem Renaissance. The creative and mental explosion of Twenties New York produced quite a few well-known voices of which Hurston is one in all the greatest identified. Her most well-known novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was written in 1937 however did not obtain literary fame till the Nineteen Seventies amid the Black arts motion (BAM). In 2019, it was listed by the BBC Arts as one in all the “100 Most Influential Novels.”

bell hooks

An early critic of mainstream feminism, bell hooks has argued, amongst many issues, that racism and sexism are inextricably related. She’s the creator of greater than 30 books and tutorial articles, amongst which Ain’t I a Woman?: Black girls and feminism and the memoir Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood are a few of the most well-known.

Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s laborious to overstate the huge impression that human rights activist Martin Luther King. Jr. had on the American civil rights motion. However, some persons are much less conversant in his writing. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who pioneered the non-violence motion of the Sixties, was the creator of quite a lot of books together with Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story and Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?—to not point out a few of the most famous speeches in history.

Harriet Jacobs

An escaped enslaved particular person and passionate abolitionist, Harriet Jacobs is greatest identified for her poignant autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl which she first revealed in 1861 underneath a pseudonym. The ebook was outstanding for a lot of causes, one being that’s was amongst the first to debate the sexual harassment and abuse that feminine slaves had been subjected to. The New Bedford Historical Society known as the ebook “the most important slave narrative written by an African American woman.”

Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is a extremely acclaimed trendy author whose 2016 ebook The Underground Railroad earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Pulitzer committee called the book “a wise melding of realism and allegory that mixes the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a fable that speaks to up to date America.” Whitehead is the creator of a number of different novels and two nonfiction books as properly, lots of which have additionally obtained widespread reward.

Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset, an author-poet and integral determine in the Harlem Renaissance, was the literary editor of the NAACP journal The Crisis in addition to the editor of the kids’s journal The Brownies’ Book. She revealed 4 novels and supplied mentorship to well-respected poets resembling Claude McKay and Langston Hughes. Numerous historians have known as her work and impression on the race dialogue under-appreciated. “A take a look at Fauset’s whole physique of labor reveals a author who’s extra engaged with trendy questions of race, class, and gender than she has been given credit score for,” Professor Claire Oberon Garcia of Colorado College told The New Yorker.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey’s impression has been plain. She was the first Black multi-billionaire in North America and in addition the richest African American of the Twentieth century, and has been known as one in all the most influential women in the world greater than as soon as. She’s written at the very least six books, most of them in the self-help style, inspiring folks of all races to reside happier, more healthy, and extra fulfilled lives. She additionally wrote Journey to Beloved, a set of journal entries and ideas about her function as Sethe in the 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Ralph Ellison

Author of the groundbreaking novel Invisible Man—which handled problems with African American identification, Black nationalism, and Marxism—Ralph Ellison had a big impact on American considering and politics in the Fifties and past. “Ellison’s view was that the African American tradition and sensibility was removed from the downtrodden, unsophisticated image offered by writers, sociologists and politicians, each Black and white,” wrote Anne Seidlitz for PBS. “He posited as a substitute that Blacks had created their very own traditions, rituals, and a historical past that shaped a cohesive and complicated tradition that was the supply of a full sense of identification.”

Angela Davis

The contributions that Angela Davis has remodeled the years to American racial discourse have been immeasurable. The author and human rights activist, who rose to fame in the late Sixties attributable to her activism and work with the Black Panthers and the Communist Party, is usually remembered for her affiliation with a home terror assault in Marin Country, California, that killed 4 folks (she was prosecuted for purchasing the firearms but later acquitted by an all-white jury). Her work has contributed mightily to activism round racism and white supremacy, and she or he’s written greater than 10 books exploring points like feminism, girls’s rights, race, class, and social justice.

Margaret Walker

An integral a part of the Chicago Black Renaissance, Margaret Walker was a vibrant determine in the literary neighborhood of the Thirties and ’40s. Her 1942 poetry assortment For My People gained the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition and her 1966 historic novel about the American Civil War titled “Jubilee” was additionally extremely acclaimed. After her demise, fellow author Amiri Baraka wrote: “She was one in all the best writers of the language. She was the grandest expression of the American poetic voice and the final paradigm of the Afro-American basic literary custom.”

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was an escaped enslaved man, abolitionist, and suffragist whose writings had an unlimited impression on African American discourse in the nineteenth century and past. He was taught to learn by a white girl named Lucretia Auld who inherited him as an enslaved particular person from her father. He, in flip, taught different slaves to learn earlier than his escape in 1838. Douglass is the creator of a number of autobiographies together with the 1845 best-seller Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and 1855’s My Bondage and My Freedom. In the foreword to the latter, John Stauffer called him “one in all the strongest voices to emerge from the American civil rights motion.”

Harriet Wilson

Harriet Wilson, who was born free in 1825 however grew to become an indentured servant after being orphaned, was the first African American to publish a novel in the United States. She did so anonymously with a ebook known as Our N– and it wasn’t till the Eighties {that a} scholar found her identification and credited her with the groundbreaking accomplishment. “It turned the literary world on its finish, as as much as that time it had been broadly accepted that the first African American revealed novelist had been Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,” wrote Carla Garner for BlackPast.org.

Barbara Christian

In addition to a number of full-length books, the prolific Barbara Christian, who was a professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (and the university’s first Black woman to be granted tenure), penned greater than 100 articles. She wrote broadly about race and advocated for literature and teachers to be extra accessible to girls and folks of coloration. In a 2000 New York Times obituary, she was known as a “main vital presence in the rising debates over the relationship amongst race, class and gender.”

Alice Walker

Few up to date African American authors have achieved the diploma of reward and literary acclaim as Alice Walker, creator of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple. In addition to her copious accolades as an creator, Walker is a feminist and social activist who’s responsible for coining the term “womanist.” On high of her most well-known novel, Walker wrote The Third Life of Grange Copeland and Meridian.

August Wilson

August Wilson was an esteemed playwright who gained two Pulitzer Prizes for his sequence of 10 performs collectively titled The Pittsburgh Cycle (the awards went to Fences and The Piano Lesson). Each play was set in a special decade and depict totally different sides of Twentieth-century African American life. The Courier-Journal’s Betty Baye, speaking to NPR, called him a “miracle of creativity,” noting that he was “a person so unabashedly in love with Black folks and so keenly insightful about the complexities of being an African American that he took upon himself the superior problem of writing 10 performs about the Black expertise, one for every decade of the Twentieth century.”

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