Black History Month: Author Edition

Written by: Amber Baldwin

With it being Black History Month, it is important to highlight a variety of important historical events and gifted black people who played a part in history. Here are a few black authors that help create wonderful works of poetry and literature. I asked two credible people on campus what authors and works that they would recommend to Defiance College students.

Barb Sedlock, Lead Librarian, and Coordinator of Metadata & Archives said, “being a history buff, I’d recommend some of the earlier works in the African American canon, like W.E.B. DuBois, Sojourner Truth, and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was an Ohioan.”

Dr. Steven Engel, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Composition, suggested his top 10 list of great black authors. It includes Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist, Colson Whitehead, Zone One, Jericho Brown, The Tradition, Claudia Rankine, Citizen, Mat Johnson, Incognegro, Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give, Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist, Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones, Toni Morrison, Beloved, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me.

Some of these books along with others by black authors can be found in the free little library in Schauffler Hall throughout the month of February.

The following black authors are somewhat unknown but achieved some amazing accomplishments.

Rita Dove
Rita Dove, who was born in Akron, Ohio, is known for her poems.  She even was the poet laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995 and then was the poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.  She also won a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1987 and is the only poet to receive both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts.  Some of her works are Through the Ivory Gate, The Yellow House on the Corner, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, Mother Love, and Grace Notes.  As of right now, Rita Dove is an English professor at the University of Virginia.  

Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks was 13 when she first got published.  Then, by the time she was 17 she was being published regularly in the Chicago Defender.  In 1950 she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  She was also the first African American woman to be a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.  Some of her works include A Street in Bronzeville, Annie Allen, Maud Martha, In the Mecca, and Winnie.

Alex Haley
Alex Haley wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  It was published in 1965.  Haley is also well known for Roots: The Saga of an American Family.  Barb Sedlock said, “watching the original miniseries based on Alex Haley’s “Roots” back in the 70s had a big impact on me.  I was in college at the time, and the show made me want to learn more of the history, so I bought the book and especially enjoyed reading the parts that didn’t make it into the miniseries–it’s impossible to include everything in a novel when it’s turned into a TV show or movie, there’s just too much material.”

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