Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography


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The Online Reference Guide to African American History

With a writing career that spanned nearly fifty years, Baraka is respected as one of the leading revolutionary cultural and political leaders, especially in his hometown of Newark, NJ. Together they have gone on to inspire younger generations like Terrence Hayes. In a genre known for being traditionally white and male, Octavia Butler broke new ground in science fiction as an African American woman.

James Baldwin

Born in California in , Butler was an avid reader despite having dyslexia, was a storyteller by 4, and began writing at the age of Drawn to science fiction because of its boundless possibilities for imagination, she was quickly frustrated by the lack of people she could identify with so she decided to create her own.

Butler took the science fiction world by storm. Her evocative novels featuring race, sex, power and humanity were highly praised and attracted audience beyond their genre. They would eventually be translated into multiple languages and sell more than a million copies. One of her best-known novels Kindred , published in , tells the story of a Black woman who must travel back in time in order to save her own life by saving a white, slaveholding ancestor.

Over her career, she won two Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards and in she became the first science fiction writer to win the MacArthur fellowship. Image: Butler at book signing, released by Nikolas Coukouma. As an activist, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian and prolific writer, W.

Du Bois was one of the most influential African American thought leaders of the 20 th century.

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He studied Black America and wrote some of the earliest scientific studies on Black communities, calling for an end to racism. Calling for organized action and an end to segregation, Jim Crow laws, and political disenfranchisement in America, the prophetic work was not well received at the time of its publication.

Du Bois eventually went on to help to establish the NAACP where he became editor of its newspaper the Crisis , and a well-known spokesman for the cause. Many of his essays from Crisis were published in book form under the title The Emerging Thought of W. While these attracted less attention than his scholarly works, the also focused on the Black race covering the topics of miscegenation and economic disparities in the South.

Born Ralph Waldo Ellison after the famous journalist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ellison was known for pursuing universal truths through his writing.


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A literary critic, writer, and scholar, Ellison taught at a variety of colleges and spent two years overseas as a Fellow of the American Academy. In an effort to transcend the starkly defined racial categories of the s, he was sometimes criticized for choosing white society over his African American identity. Identifying as an artist first, Ellison rejected the notion that one should stand for a particular ideology, refuting both Black and white stereotypes in his collection of political, social and critical essays titled Shadow and Act.

I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Best known for The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the novel Roots , Haley began his writing career freelancing and struggled to make ends meet. Eating canned sardines for weeks at a time, his big break came when Playboy magazine assigned him to interview Miles Davis.

Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography - Google Books

Proving to be such a success, the magazine contracted Haley to do a series of interviews with prominent African Americans. The Autobiography of Malcolm X would soon become an international bestseller and Haley became a literary success. The book was a national sensation and won the Pulitzer Prize, eventually becoming a television miniseries that would shatter television viewing records when million viewers tuned in. A primary contributor of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was one of the first to use jazz rhythms in his works, becoming an early innovator of the literary art form jazz poetry.

While many American poets during the s were writing esoteric poetry to a dwindling audience, Hughes addressed people using language, themes, attitudes and ideas that they could relate to. When his first novel Not Without Laughter was published in , it won the Harmon gold medal for literature. A prolific writer known for his colorful portrayals of Black life from the ss, Hughes wrote plays, short stories, poetry, several books, and contributed the lyrics to a Broadway musical. In addition to his extensive body of work, he inspired other artists and highlighted the power of art as a catalyst for change.

Seen as a voice for their own experience, writers during the Harlem Renaissance often dedicated their work to Hughes. By the time of its height in the s, Hurston was a preeminent Black female writer in the United States. Unlike the style of contemporaries Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston did not write explicitly about Black people in the context of white America.

Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography

She focused on the culture and traditions of African Americans through the poetry of their speech. Despite her earlier literary success, Hurston would suffer later in her career. Having difficulty getting published, she died poor and alone.


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Born in Mississippi in , Richard Wright is best known for his novels Native Son and Black Boy, that mirrored his own struggle with poverty and coming of age journey. His novel Black Boy was a personal account of growing up in the South and eventual move to Chicago where he became a writer and joined the Communist Party. This collection contains the seminal writings and speeches of a legendary writer, orator, and civil rights leader.

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His writings, speeches, and public debates brought fundamental changes to American race relations. The Souls of Black Folk not only recorded and explained history—it helped alter its course. As First Lady, Michelle Obama helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls, and changing the ways that families pursue healthier lives. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.

Audre Lorde was a lesbian poet and feminist writer who published nine volumes of poetry and five works of prose. In this collection, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. He stood with hundreds of others on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to push a message of justice and accountability. These protests resulted in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Now, in his first book, Mckesson lays down the intellectual, pragmatic, and political framework for a new liberation movement. Share: Share on Facebook. Related Lists:. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices.

Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography
Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography Black Lives: Essays in African American Biography

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