In honor of black history month, here are a list of writers who have done amazing things when it comes to writing and civil rights. Look more into these writers and see why they are so important to black history and literature.
Langston Hughes was an American poet, novelist, and playwright whose African-American themes made him a primary contributor to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.
Famous work: “I, Too Sing America”, “Harlem: Dream Deferred”, “The Negro Speaks of River”
Favorite Quotes: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
“Negroes—sweet and docile, meek, humble and kind: Beware the day—they change their mind.”
Maya Angelou was an civil rights activist, poet, and award-winning author known for her acclaimed memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and her numerous poetry and essay collections.
I just have to throw in the fact that I had a chance of meeting this woman and at the time I had not realized who she was. I remember she came to my internship when I was about fifteen, and I was so busy trying to rush back to my desk that I hadn’t realized that I had just met one of my writing idols. We were in the elevator together; I spoke to her and even directed her to the area that she should be in. How I didn’t recognize that distinctive voice, I have not a clue. I didn’t realize that she was Maya Angelou until I got an email stating that she was in the east wing and I rushed over to be able to see her speak. Only to realize that I had been speaking to this sweet woman about thirty minutes prior and had no idea. But yes she’s my favorite writer! Lol Oh she was born in my city, St. Louis!
Famous work: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “And Still I Rise,” “On the Pulse of Morning,” “The Heart of a Woman”
Favorite Quotes: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist, novelist, playwright, and civil rights activist. She was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance before writing her masterwork, ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’ She was friends with Langston Hughes, who she collaborated with on plays.
Famous work: “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Mules and men,” “How It feels to be Colored Me.”
Favorite Quotes:“Love makes your soul crawl out frown its hiding place.”
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
Alice Walker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, African-American novelist, essayist, and poet most famous for authoring The Color Purple. She worked as a social worker, teacher and lecturer, and took part in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi.
Famous Works: “The Color Purple,” which was later turned into a movie. “The Third Life of Grange Copeland,” “The Meridian.”
Favorite Quotes: “For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow might be engaged.”
“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”
Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, exquisite language and richly detailed African-American characters who are central to their narratives.
Famous Works: “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula, Song of Solomon,” “Beloved,“ “Jazz, Love and A Mercy”
Favorite Quotes: “We are born already and we are going to die. You really have to do something you respect in between.”
“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”
W.E.B Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the most important African-American activists during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the NAACP and supported Pan-Africanism. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century.
Famous Works: “The Philadelphia Negro,” “The Souls of Black Folks,”
Favorite Quotes:“There is but one coward on earth, and that is the coward that dare not know.”
“Ignorance is a cure for nothing.”
“Either America will destroy ignorance, or ignorance will destroy the United States.”