Bookish Black History Month Birthdays

Another Black History Month, another opportunity to celebrate Black Excellence in its many forms. In February 2020, we are ready to take Blackness On Fleek to another level! Today’s Black History Month celebration highlights some amazing black writers who just happen to be born in February.

Langston Hughes – February 1

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes Book Cover

Poet and activist Langston Hughes was born James Mercer Langston Hughes in Joplin, Missouri in 1901. Hughes is known best as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote about when “the negro was in vogue.”

Hughes famous for his poetry, but also published novels like Not Without Laughter. The novel is about black life in 1910’s Kansas. The Ways of White Folks is a collection of short stories. These stories highlight the humor and tragedy in black and white interactions.

Alice Walker – February 9

The Color Purple by Alice Walker Book Cover

Born in Eatonton, Georgia in 1944, Alice Walker is best known for writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple . In addition to writing novels and short stories, Walker is a poet and noted activist.

Fun Fact: In 1983, Alice Walker coined the term “womanist,” which describes black feminists and feminists of color who seek equality that intersects race and gender.

If you are looking to explore Walker beyond The Color Purple, we recommend her debut novel The Third Life of Grange Copeland. It is the story about Georgia sharecropper, Grange, and his family.

Frederick Douglass – February 14

The exact year and date of Douglass’s birth is unknown. Later in life, he chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14. Douglass stated:

I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.

Frederick Douglass
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass Book Cover

After escaping from slavery in Maryland, Douglass became a national leader in the abolitionist movement. He gained notoriety for his antislavery writings and his autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and My Bondage and My Freedom.

Fun Fact: Frederick Douglass was the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States. He was part of the Equal Rights Party ticket with Victoria Woodhull.

Audre Lorde – February 18

Writer, womanist, and civil rights activist Audrey Geraldine Lorde was born in New York City on February 18, 1934. Lorde embodied intersectional feminism in her poetry before the term was coined. She famously said:

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.

Audre Lorde
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde Book Cover

Must-read books from the Audre Lorde oeuvre include Sister Outsider and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Sister Outsider is a collection of poems and essays exploring how intersecting oppressions influence many women’s lived experiences. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name chronicles Lorde’s childhood and coming of age in 1950s Harlem.

Toni Morrison – February 18

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Book Cover

Toni Morrison was born Lorain, Ohio in 1931. Like Alice Walker, Toni Morrison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. For the novel Beloved, about escaped slave Sethe, Morrison won both the Pulizer Prize and the American Book Award. Morrison has a plethora of critically acclaimed and celebrated books for readers who enjoy American literature. Must-read Morrison works include Sula, Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eyes, her first.

Fun Fact: Toni Morrison did not become a published author until the age of 39.

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