African American Writers and the Black Experience

The United States has a rich history of accomplished authors. Writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain have defined American literature. Although these writers have created phenomenal works and deserve their praise other writers who have achieved just as much are often forgotten. Many African American writers have created works that have perfectly captured the American experience and redefined literature. So let’s take the time to learn more about a few of these authors. specifically James Baldwin and Maya Angelou.

James Baldwin was a writer whose work embodied the time period they were created in. Many of his pieces focused on issues of race and sexuality while the civil rights movement and the gay liberation movement were taking place. His first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, which focuses on the role of religion in the lives of African Americans, was ranked in the Modern Library’s list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Although Baldwin had moved to Paris in order to escape the racial oppression in America he did return during the Civil Rights Movement. While in America Baldwin wrote many essays on the movement. His writings gave readers a perspective on both the gay and black experiences in America for the first time. Here is a short biography detailing Baldwin’s numerous other accomplishments.

Biography: James Baldwin Mini Bio

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Maya Angelou was a great American poet and writer that motivated many other future writers with her works. She is most well known for her memoirs and autobiographies. Maya Angelou was one of the first black women to place themselves as the central character of their writing. Black women were often marginalized within the black writing community but Maya Angelou was able to show audiences a new perspective of African American identities. Her most famous work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings inspired many new black feminist writers. In 2011 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. Maya Angelou’s works are still read all across America and continue to inspire new poets and writers today. Here is a biography covering Maya Angelou’s history and how her writings captured America. 

Biography: Maya Angelou Mini Bio

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There are many other African American authors who helped to develop American literature as well. Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes are just a few more. These writers not only created amazing works but also revealed black experiences and humanity to the rest of the country.

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