Literature

Blacks who influence the written word, novelist, poets, playwrights, etc.

Melvin Tolson, a post renaissance poet


Melvin Tolson

Melvin Tolson was born on this date in 1898. He was an African American writer, educator, politician, and poet.

Novelist John O. Killens wrote Black Man's Burden


John O. Killens

This date marks the birthday of John Oliver Killens, an African American novelist and professor, born in Macon, GA. in 1916.

Killens studied at Terrell Law School, Columbia University, and New York University from 1936 to 1942. After serving in the military, he worked for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., and then moved to Brooklyn. Killen’s first novel, "Youngblood," was published in 1954 and his second, "And Then We Had Thunder," in 1963. In between those two novels, he wrote the script for the film "Odds Against Tomorrow."

Elmer S. Campbell, cartoonist born


Elmer S.
Campbell

Elmer Simms Campbell was born on this date in 1906. He was the first African American cartoonist to publish his work in general-circulation magazines.

Campbell was born in St. Louis, and while still attending high school, he won a nationwide contest in cartooning. He later studied at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He then worked as a railroad dining-car waiter, amusing himself by drawing caricatures of the passenger. One of them was so impressed with his work, hed gave him a job in a commercial-art studio in St. Louis.

Zora Neale Hurston, pre-eminent Harlem Renaissance author


Zora N. Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, an African American writer and folklorist, was born on this date in 1891. She is best known for her 1937 novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God." In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Zora Neale Hurston on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

Born in Notasulga, AL, she grew up in Eatonville, FL., and was educated at Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University, where she studied anthropology. Hurston returned to Florida after college for an anthropological field study that influenced her later fiction and folklore.

Author Leon Forrest, a writer who started as a journalist


Leon Forest

On this date, we remember the birth of Leon Richard Forrest born in 1937. He was an African American author of large, inventive novels that blend myth, history, legend, and contemporary realism.

Forrest was born into a middle-class family in Chicago. His mother was Catholic and from New Orleans, and his father's family was Baptist. he attended the University of Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army before beginning his career as a writer. From 1965 to 1973, Forrest worked as a journalist for various papers, including the Nation of Islam's weekly Muhammad Speaks.

Maud Hare, Texas original


Maud Cuney-Hare

*Maud Cuney-Hare was born on this date in 1874. She was an African American musician and writer.

From Galveston, TX, her parents were Adelina (Dowdy) and Norris Wright Cuney. After graduating from Central High School in Galveston in 1890, she studied piano at the New England Conservatory of Music. While there she successfully resisted the pressure that white students exerted on the school's administrators to have her barred from living in the dormitory.

Black Poetry; deep, beautiful, and unique

On this date the Registry celebrates African American poetry.

Through their culture and work, Black poets, forced by a dominant culture which constantly negates them, to question what it means to be human, to be American, to be Black, continue a definitive quest for identity. African-American poetry represents a blend of the public and the private in the journey toward voice and freedom.