Literature

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

Gerald Barrax, a poet with humanity in mind!


Gerald Barrax

Gerald Barrax was born on this date in 1933. He is an African-American poet, teacher, and literary editor.

He was born in Attalla, AL, but raised in Pittsburgh. Barrax earned his B.A. in English from Duquesne University and his M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He also worked as editor of Obsidian, a publication that reviews Black Literature and has been considered a major contemporary influence in the world of literary expression and scholarship; he also worked for several other publications.

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Ignatius Sancho, an early black composer and writer


Ignatius Sancho

The birth of Ignatius Sancho, a Black writer, in 1729 is celebrated on this date. He was born on a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the West African nation of Guinea. After the ship reached the Caribbean port of Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, his mother died and his father committed suicide.

He was baptized “Ignatius.” After several years, Sancho was taken to Greenwich, England, where he was given to three unmarried women. They gave him the surname “Sancho” because he reminded them of the squire in Don Quixote.

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Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about American slavery


Alexis de
Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville was born this date in 1805. He was a White French journalist and abolitionist writer.

He was born in Paris to Herve-Bonaventure Clerel de Tocqueville and Louise Le Peletier de Rosanbo. His older brothers were named Hippolyte and Edouard. Tocqueville came from an aristocratic background. He had a private tutor, the abbe Lesueur, until high school, and then attended high school and college in Metz. He studied law in Paris and worked as a substitute judge in Versailles before coming to America in 1831, when he was 25 years old.

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William Attaway, an early Black script writer for films, TV and more


William Attaway

William Attaway was born on this date in 1911. He was an African American novelist, essayist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter, and song writer.

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Olivia Bush, talented writer and drama coach


Olivia W. Bush

Olivia Ward Bush-Banks, an African American writer and drama instructor, was born on this day in 1869.

Born in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, Olivia was the daughter of Eliza Draper and Abraham Ward, both of whom were of African and Montauk descent. Ward’s mother died when was about one year old. She and her father moved to Providence, R.I., where he married again, but he handed young Ward over to her mother's sister, Maria Draper, who reared Olivia as her own child.

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Aesop, an original teller of stories


Aesop

Aesop, an ancient and famous Black storyteller, was born on this day around 620 BC. Aesop is known for his stories, which are called "Aesop's Fables," which have become a blanket term for collections of brief fables, usually involving anthropomorphic animals.

Aesop was a Black slave of Iadmon,located in the south of Greece near northern Africa. Most accounts describe Aesop as a deformed man whose name came from the Greek word Aethiops which means Ethiopia.

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Derek Walcott, poet extraordinaire


Derek Walcott

*Derek Walcott was born on this date in 1930. He is an Afro Caribbean poet, playwright and educator.

He was born in Castries, Saint Lucia; one of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. Both his grandmothers were descendants of slaves. His father, a Bohemian watercolorist, died when Walcott and his twin brother, Roderick, were very young and his mother ran the town's Methodist school. After studying at St. Mary's College in Saint Lucia and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved to Trinidad in 1953, where he has worked as theatre and art critic.

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Booker T. Washington Literary Club begins

*On this date in 1907 we celebrate the origin of the Booker T. Washington Literary Club. Started in Ohio, the first President of the club was Rev. George Washington of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The club was geared to cater to the Afro-Americans students at Ohio University.

The group photo (taken July 27, 1909) is at Minnie Bell’s Annual Reception in Honor of the Summer School. Later the club was called the B.T.W. Literary Society. The club disbanded in 1916.

Reference:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue S.E.
Washington D.C. 20540

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DuBose Heyward, author of "Porgy and Bess" and other important musicals

Eugene Dubose Heyward, a White American writer and playwright, was born on this date in 1885.

Although his parents were descended from Charleston, SC, aristocracy, the young Heyward did not know the wealth of his grandparents. The city and its citizens were proud, dignified, mannerly, vain, courageous, and poor. The Heyward family knew poverty and lived modestly.

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Anne Spencer, a poet of many styles


Anne Spencer

*Anne Spencer was born on this date in 1882. She was an African American poet.

From Henry County, Virginia, Annie Bethel Bannister was the only child of Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales. After a turbulent marriage ended, young Anne was taken to Bramwell, West Virginia. Money problems then forced Anne’s mother to place her in the home of William T. Dixie, a prominent member of the Black community. Reading dime-store novels and newspapers taught the gifted youngster about the power of language.

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