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Arna Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, to parents of Creole descent who eventually converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist faith. While Arna was young, the Bontemps family moved to Los Angeles, California. The childhood loss of his mother and the stern upbringing by his pragmatic father affected him deeply. His father hoped, mistakenly, that his son would make the family trade of masonry his life's work. Educated at Seventh-Day Adventist institutions, Bontemps graduated from Pacific Union College in 1923. In 1924 he took a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in New York City.

Literary notice and success came early to Bontemps. His creativity and social conscience were excited by the cultural vitality he found in New York in the 1920s. By 1926 his poetry had appeared in two of the most important journals of the period, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ...

Article

Robert E. Fleming

writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923.Bontemps then moved to Harlem, New York, where the Harlem Renaissance had already attracted the attention of West Coast intellectuals. He found a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in 1924 and began to publish poetry. He won the Alexander Pushkin Prize from Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, in 1926 and 1927 and The Crisis (official journal of the NAACP) Poetry Prize in 1926. His career soon intersected that of the poet Langston Hughes, with whom he became a close friend and sometime collaborator. In Harlem, Bontemps also came to know Countée Cullen, W ...

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Maia Angelique Sorrells

The works of Jeannette Franklin Caines are generally concerned with parent-child communication and other social and political issues. Jeannette Caines often presents these topics in the voice of a child. Abby (1973) explores the dynamics of adoption and the complex issues surrounding the expansion of the family, while her second book, Daddy (1977), deals with divorce and the necessity of maintaining healthy relationships between the child and both parents. Chilly Stomach (1986) concerns the difficulties of defining and confronting sexual abuse. Often Caines's books end without a resolution to the problem. This encourages thought and discussion and facilitates effective communication and problem solving between parents and children.

Caines was born in New York in 1937 and has dedicated much of her life to improving the quality of children s and young adult literature In addition to receiving the National Black Child Development Institute ...

Article

Joycelyn K. Moody

Lucille Sayles Clifton was born in Depew, New York, to Samuel L. and Thelma Moore Sayles. Her father worked for the New York steel mills; her mother was a launderer, home-maker, and avocational poet. Although neither parent was formally educated, they provided their large family with an appreciation and an abundance of books, especially those by African Americans. At age sixteen, Lucille entered college early, matriculating as a drama major at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her Howard associates included such intellectuals as Sterling A. Brown, A. B. Spellman, Chloe Wofford (now Toni Morrison), who later edited her writings for Random House, and Fred Clifton, whom she married in 1958.

After transferring to Fredonia State Teachers College in 1955 Clifton worked as an actor and began to cultivate in poetry the minimalist characteristics that would become her professional signature Like other prominent Black Aesthetic ...

Article

Robert Fikes

Born into a large family in a racially segregated middle-class section of Demopolis, Alabama, where he was not allowed to visit the town's public library, James S. Haskins was deeply affected by the swirl of events related to the mid century civil rights movement He received his bachelor s degree in history at Alabama State College but limited career opportunities in the South in the early 1960s led him to seek employment in New York City Two years of selling newspaper advertisements and working as a Wall Street stockbroker brought him to the realization that he was better suited for a career in education and thus he applied for a position in the New York City public school system After teaching music at several locations he found a job teaching a special education class at P S 92 Obsessed with the plight of his inner city pupils he was ...

Article

Monique Miles Bruner

children's book editor and author, was born Patricia L'Ann Carwell in Smyrna, Tennessee, to Robert Carwell, a civil servant, and Erma Carwell, a hospital admissions aide (Erma's maiden name is unknown). At the age of three, Patricia and her family moved north to St. Louis, Missouri. Several years later, following her parents' divorce, Patricia, her mother, and her siblings moved back to Nashville, Tennessee. By age twelve, Patricia had developed a love for reading and would often spend countless hours memorizing a good story. It was during this time she would meet and become lifelong friends with her future husband, Fredrick McKissack During these formative years Patricia loved to listen to family elders weave tales of the old days recite poems read Bible stories and make up spine tingling ghost tales on the porch before dusk The love of these tales fed her desire to learn ...

Article

Tlhalo Sam Raditlhalo

, South African author, was born in Western Native Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 4 July 1948 to Nimrod Njabulo Ndebele and Makhosazana Regina Tshabangu. He grew up in Charterston Location in Nigel. His schooling reflects the voluntary and involuntary movements of black South Africans then in search of a better education as their worst fears about “Bantu Education,” promulgated in 1953 and designed by the then-minister of native affairs, Hendrik Verwoerd, became apparent. Bantu Education was designed to restrict black education to that which would prepare them solely for manual labor, so parents like Ndebele’s who could afford to do so generally sent their children to neighboring countries for a better quality of education. Ndebele spent his childhood years mostly at Charterston Location, completing primary education at the Mzimkhulu Primary School in 1957 and Zakheni Higher Primary School in 1960 Thereafter he was sent to Swaziland to ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

novelist, short-story writer, and children's book author. Ann Lane grew up in the white, middle-class town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut. The daughter of a pharmacist, she initially followed in her father's footsteps, earning a degree in pharmacy from the Connecticut College of Pharmacy in 1931 and then working in the family drugstore for seven years. In 1938 she married the writer George Petry and moved to Harlem to pursue a writing career.

In Harlem she worked as a reporter for the Amsterdam News and the People's Voice. She also began volunteering at an after-school program for latchkey children. This exposure to poverty and the difficulties faced by urban black women had a profound influence on her writing.

In the 1940s Petry published several short stories in periodicals including Phylon and The Crisis. A grant from Houghton Mifflin allowed her to write her first novel, The Street ...

Article

Kim Jenice Dillon

Known for his books for children, John Shearer was born and raised in New York City and attended Rochester Institute of Technology and School of Visual Arts. In 1970, he became staff photographer for Look and Life, and contributed photographs to other national magazines, including Popular Photography and Infinity.

Shearer entered the field of children's and young adult literature with I Wish I Had an Afro (1970), a nonfiction essay exploring the challenges of rearing an African American boy in poverty. Shearer's black-and-white photographs contribute to the intense depiction of an urban family's struggle against ignorance, gangs, and drugs. Shearer's talent for illustrating narratives of childhood experience is seen also in Little Man in the Family (1972 a double photographic essay exploring the lives of two boys from differing racial and class backgrounds Louis Berrios is Puerto Rican and lives in a New ...

Article

Linda Spencer

author and Catholic activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the first of three girls born to Robert Tarry, a barber, and Eula Meadows, a seamstress for wealthy white people in Birmingham. Tarry wrote in her autobiography, The Third Door (1955):

Anthropologists would probably have said that my father was a mulatto and my mother an octoroon. I do not know what scientific name they might have used to describe my two sisters and me. I do know a lot of unscientific names were used, but I was a young lady before I really understood. Mamy once laughingly said we were a “duke's mixture”; to me, that seemed closer to the truth than anything else did.

Born into a warm loving and supportive family Ellen only realized her complexion was an issue when she entered the segregated Birmingham Slater School In elementary school because of her ...

Article

Ginny Crosthwait

cofounder of Los Angeles's Crips gang, author, Nobel Prize nominee, and antigang activist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and moved to South Central Los Angeles in 1959, after his parents (names unknown) divorced. Gang rivalry was prevalent in the area, and Williams was intrigued by the thrilling stories he heard from older neighborhood boys who had served time in prison. As a teenager, he spent time in a variety of juvenile detention centers in California and Utah for drug use, fighting, and suspected burglary.

Back in South Central, Williams earned a reputation as an expert street fighter and, along with high school friend Raymond Lee Washington, founded the Crips in 1971 Although the Crips a derivative of crib was originally founded to protect and defend the members and their families from gang aggression it rapidly increased in membership and violent activity to rival the area s other ...