Toni Bambara, writer and activist

Toni Bambara
Sat, 1939-03-25

*Toni Cade Bambara was born on this date in 1939. She was an African-American writer, civil-rights activist, and teacher who wrote about the concerns of the African American community.

Raised by her mother in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Queens, N.Y., Bambara (a last name she adopted in 1970) was educated at Queens College (B.A., 1959). In 1961, she went to Italy and in France, studying acting and mime. She received an M.A. in 1964 from City College of the City University of New York. In the 1970s, she was active in both the Black liberation and the women’s movements. Bambara’s fiction, which is set in the rural South, as well as the urban North, is written in black street dialect and presents sharply drawn characters whom she portrayed with affection.

She published the short-story collections Gorilla, My Love (1972), The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977), as well as the novels The Salt Eaters (1980) and If Blessing Comes (1987). She edited and contributed to The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970) and to Tales and Stories for Black Folks (1971). She also collaborated on several television documentaries. She was a frequent lecturer and teacher at universities and a political activist who worked to raise Black American consciousness and pride.

Toni Bambara died December 9, 1995 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Voices from the Gaps
Department of English,
207 Lind Hall
University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, MN 55455

To be a Writer

Person / name: 

Bambara, Toni