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African American Women Writers


African American women writers have helped to bring the black woman's experience to life for millions of readers. Here are some of these writers you should know.

Regina Anderson

Regina Anderson, a librarian and playwright, helped found the Krigwa Players (later the Negro Experimental Theatre or Harlem Experimental Theatre) with W. E. B. Du Bois. She worked with groups such as the National Council of Women and the National Urban League, which she represented at the United States Commission for UNESCO.

Daisy Bates

A journalist and newspaper publisher, Daisy Bates is best known for her role in the 1957 integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The students who integrated Central High School are known as the Little Rock Nine.

Marita Bonner

Marita Bonner, a figure of the Harlem Renaissance, stopped publishing in 1941 and became a teacher, though a few new stories were discovered among her notes after her 1971 death.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Rooks was the first African American to win Pulitzer Prize (for Poetry, 1950), and was poet laureate of Illinois. Her poetry themes were usually the ordinary lives of urban African Americans dealing with racism and poverty.

Angela Davis

Activist and professor who was "the third woman in history to appear on the FBI's most wanted list," her writings often address issues of women and politics.

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Alice Dunbar-Nelson -- who also wrote as Alice Ruth Moore, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, and Alice Dunbar Nelson -- was an African American woman writer at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Her life and writing provide insight into the culture in which she lived.

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman
Getty Images / Evan Agostini
While her work with the Children's Defense Fund is what Marian Wright Edelman is most known for, her writings about children's issues have been popular and are part of her advocacy.

Old Elizabeth

Old Elizabeth is the name used by an early African Methodist Episcopal preacher, emancipated slave, and African American woman writer.

Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset played a key role in Harlem Renaissance. She was the literary editor of the [i]Crisis[/i]. Langston Hughes called her a "mid-wife" of African American literature. Fauset was also the first African American woman in the United States elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry
Courtesy Library of Congress
Lorraine Hansberry is best known for her play, A Raisin in the Sun, with universal, black, and feminist themes.
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