Writer’s Quote Wednesday 2015k

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My interest to search out female African-American authors has been a long-time, though neglected wish, to know more about their contributions to and role in the literary world. Writers Quote Wednesday 2015 has helped me to fulfill this wish and for this I am grateful.

Nella Larsen.

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Larsen, a fiction novelist, is the first African-American female author to win a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Nella Larsenn

In her short-lived career, she published:

  • Two BooksPassingQuicksand; and
  • Four StoriesFreedomQuicksand
    • The Wrong Man
    • Sanctuary

Charles Larson, edited Larsen’s literary works; and, published the book, “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen”; which, I am currently reading.

Her life story is a sad one — emotional abandonment by parents, controversial divorce, and accusations of plagiarism.  The plagiarism allegations, in 1930, related to her last story, “Sanctuary”.  Following this, she gave up writing and returned to her career as a nurse.

According to Black History Now,

“Her value to American literature is continually growing.  Today, many critics consider her to be the greatest novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, and her work continues to be read nationally and internationally.”

Born on April 13, 1891, in Chicago, Illinois, Larsen died alone on March 30, 1964 in her New York Apartment.  

 

 

Writer’s Quote 2015

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This week, I selected a quote by Shirley Graham Du Bois.

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photoWhile still a student at Oberlin College, DuBois wrote and produced a three act opera, “Tom-Toms: An Epic of Music and the Negro.” Featuring an all black cast, it opened at the Cleveland Stadium in 1932.  The first performance drew ten thousand and the second fifteen thousand including the Governor of Ohio.  DuBois is the first African-American woman to write and produce an opera with an all-black cast.

According to the Oxford Companion to African-American Literature, DuBois other “theater works included:

  • Deep Rivers (1939), a musical;
  • It’s Morning (1940), a one-act tragedy
  • I Gotta Home (1940), a one-act drama
  • Track Thirteen (1940), a comedy for radio and her only published play;
  • Elijah Raven (1941), a three-act comedy; and
  • Dust to Earth (1941), a three-act tragedy.”

Because of the obstacles she faced, as an African-American female, in getting her musicals and plays produced and published, DuBois transitioned to literature.

From 1944 until her death in 1977, she wrote biographical books targeted to reach young African-American elementary school readers.  She felt elementary schools lacked access to quality educational resources about African-American and African heroes.

On a personal note, in the late 1940’s and 50’s, my elementary school library as well as the neighborhood public library had books written by DuBois (aka Graham) on:

  • Dr. George Washington Carver
  • Benjamin Banneker
  • Paul Robeson
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Jean Baptiste Pointe duSable

However, the classroom text books, as I recall, had only 1-2 pages about two African-Americans — Dr. George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington.  So, I am very appreciative of the books written by DuBois; and, I regret that the Chicago Public School system did not, apparently, feel it was necessary to include African-American history and literature into the curriculum during the 1940s and 1950s.  Hopefully, this is no longer the case.

In addition to her biographical books, DuBois wrote and published two novels:

  • There Once Was a Slave (1947)
  • Zulu Heart (1974)

In 1951, she married writer and Civil Rights Leader, W.E.B. DuBois.  Shirley Graham DuBois died of breast cancer on March 27, 1977.

In this season of life, I seek to open up my space to the “new and different”; and participating weekly in Writer’s Quote, 2015 is, indeed, a “new and different” experience for me. Thank you, Silver Threading, for hosting this event.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday 2015

I loved and embraced the poetry, books and quotes of African-American authors during the 70s.  But, the busyness of making a living as opposed to working toward living life to its fullest took me away from many of these gifted wordsmith’s until I found Writer’s Quote Wednesday 2015 hosted by Silver Threading.

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But, I never abandoned Alice Walker whose words ground and support when the mind, body and spirit is weak.

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Birthdate – February 9, 1944

Women’s Rights Activist/Author/Civil Rights Activist is Walker’s self-defined occupation.  She has received many awards and recognitions for her:

  • Novels and Short Stories
  • Poetry
  • Non-Fiction Books
  • Essays

Favorite Book

In 1983, Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Color Purple.”  Three years later the story hit the movie screen and received eleven academy award nominations.

On December 1, 2005, the “Color of Purple” opened on Broadway.  Two years later Hubby, the children, grands and I went to New York City to see the production and celebrate my 65th as well as the eldest granddaughter’s 16th birthday.

Favorite Poem

Walker’s poem “For My People,” has been my “go to” when, I felt, unfairly judged, treated and/or demonized because of skin color.

A long poem addressing a lot, speaking to many, but I will only share three of my favorite passages.

“For my people everywhere singing their slave songs repeatedly, their dirges and their ditties and their blues and jubilees, saying their prayers nightly to an unknown God, bending their knees humbly to an unseen power.”

“For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn to know the reasons why and the answers to and the people who and the places where and the days when, in memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we were black and poor and small and different and nobody wondered and nobody understood.”

“For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding, trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people all the faces all the Adams and Eves and their countless generations; Let a new earth rise.  Let another world be born. Let a peace be written in the sky.  Let a people loving freedom come to growth.  Let a generation full of courage issue forth. Let freedom be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood.  Let the martial songs be written; let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now rise and take control!”