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Celebrating Black Women's History Month: Female African American Authors of the Past

(This article was originally published in the April 2020 issue of Paper Jam)

Black Women’s History Month celebrates the many African American women who pioneered the frontlines of American history and led the way for future generations to feel empowered to create positive change. In honor of Black Women's History Month, the Reading and Writing Center wants to celebrate the rich history of the African American community by highlighting the lives and work of several famous female African American Authors of the past who have shaped the world through their writing.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American author, actor, poet, and director whose work helped shape America in the 1980s. She published seven autobiographies, several poetry volumes and wrote and directed television shows before her death in 2014. Angelou's life was full of accomplishments that honored and defended women and black culture. One of her most notable public appearances was in 1993, where she read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration. Angelou's work continues to live on and is used worldwide to educate and inspire.

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston, an African American author and focal point of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s, used her voice to write and record fiction and nonfiction stories about racial struggles in the south. Her diverse stories depicted African American experiences and racial division from the 1700s to the 1900s. Some of her more famous works include her short story "Spunk" and her book "Their Eyes Were Watching God," which are both staples of the Harlem renaissance and explore the ideas of race and gender.

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry started as a journalist for an all-black Freedom Newspaper. She was apart of the civil rights movement she quickly gained momentum and later published her play A Raisin in The Sunin 1959 that involves themes of racial segregation and freedom. She was the first African American woman to have her play produced on Broadway. Hansberry also spoke out boldly about homosexuality and white supremacy in her writing. Hansberry was and still is an inspiration for the black community, and her writing is still relevant today.

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