African-American Writers and Journalists spans nearly three centuries of literary and journalistic history, from a long-unpublished ballad composed in the 1740s by a slave named Lucy Terry to the works of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. It tells the stories of figures such as Frederick Douglass, whose towering intellect and powerful prose helped animate the movement to abolish slavery; Ida B. Wells and Charlotta Bass, journalists who risked their lives to report on racial violence and injustice; and Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, who challenged society with hard questions about race and equality.
A series of collective biographies that feature noteworthy African-Americans who have excelled in various talents, fields of study, or in the performance arts and have gained recognition by utilizing their skills to become leaders in their chosen occupation.
Born in Missouri in 1928, Maya Angelou had a difficult childhood. Jim Crow laws segregated blacks and whites in the South. Her family life was unstable at times. But much like her poem, "Still I Rise," Angelou was able to lift herself out of her situation and flourish. She moved to California and became the first black—and first female—streetcar operator before following her interest in dance. She became a professional performer in her twenties and toured the U.S. and Europe as an opera star and calypso dancer. But Angelou's writing became her defining talent. Her poems and books, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, brought her international acclaim.
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