Black History Month: 5 Black Women Writers You Should Know

Maya Angelou is an incredibly talented woman in many different creative disciplines; a poet, writer, civil rights activist, Hollywood’s first female black director, composer, singer, Grammy winner, and actress. During the years of her activism, she worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. One of her most known pieces of work is a memoir called “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” as it was the very first bestselling nonfiction book written by an African American woman. Her poetry is filled with meaningful societal and political messages, as Maya would often depict Black beauty, women’s strength, and demand social justice for the most marginalised. She is a very thought-provoking and liberated artist that managed to use her art as a weapon of change. 

In her poem called “Phenomenal Woman,” Maya Angelou redefines beauty by giving an alternative meaning to the concept. She believes that being confident in your own body and skin is extremely beautiful and magnifying, which remains an empowering and important message for women to this day. 

Audre Lorde is a passionate poet and writer who focused on creatively depicting her personal experiences being a Black queer woman and later in life as a mother and a cancer patient. She is a creative activist and her art is prominent in LGBTQI and feminist communities. Her poems would commonly focus on defining identity, as this concept is multidimensional.

Audre Lorde’s “A Woman Speaks” sheds the light on the voices of Black women and describes ways they had been left out of activist movements by white feminists and black men alike. She notes that Black women’s struggle allowed them to develop a unique perspective, making their voices more powerful. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer and activist, who is one of the most well-known modern African American authors. In her work, Chimamanda raises the questions of religion, race, identity, feminism, and LGBTQI issues. Chimamanda has also been invited to give lectures and speeches at Harvard, Yale, TED, and other spaces. 

In the essay “We Should All Be Feminists,” Chimamanda discusses the meaning behind the word “feminism” in the twenty-first century. She distinguishes between the blatantly discriminatory practices and the more subtle ones. Chimamanda brings up the issues of institutional inequality and the ways this affects women from all around the globe. 

Toni Morrison is a well-known play and children’s book writer, as well as a novelist and poet. Toni’s work is very well recognised, as it had earned her a variety of awards. She is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in America. Toni has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Her literary work has inspired numerous authors since in her writing she focused heavily on race and social justice issues 

“Eve Remembering” is a poem that refers to the biblical Eve’s act of biting the apple from the tree of knowledge. She compares this scene to a woman growing up and losing the innocence she once had as a child. Toni notes that Eve should not have any regrets for taking a risk and being fearless, as it is a normal part of a learning process. 

Margaret Walker was an African American writer and poet. She is notable for being a part of the famous Black literary movement called the Chicago Renaissance. Her only novel called “Jubilee,” which depicts the story of a slave family during the Civil War period is regarded as “the first truly historical black American novel” by the Washington Post.

In the poem “Lineage” the author pays homage to her ancestors by reinforcing the idea of their power and courage. Specifically, Margaret is describing their daily chores and other aspects of their lives that made them who they were. She admires their strength and compares their ventures to her personal experiences, and her poem acts as an invitation for the readers to do the same.

Written by WAVE Intern Polina Lynova

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