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Evan Mwangi

Moroccan novelist, dramatist, and radio commentator and producer, was born on 15 July 1926 in the French Moroccan town of Mazagan (present-day el-Jadida), near Casablanca. His father was a fairly liberal tea merchant who regarded European education as a vestibule to a better Moroccan society. As a young boy Chraïbi received his early education in a local qurʾanic school, but when the family moved to Casablanca a little later, he joined a French school. In 1946 he left for Paris to study chemical engineering, graduating in 1950. However, he abandoned his graduate studies in neuropsychiatry just before receiving his doctorate. He traveled across Europe and to Israel, settling in France with his first wife, Catherine Chraïbi (née Birckel), and their children.

From 1952 Chraïbi devoted himself to literature and journalism, and in 1954 he began writing for the National Radio and Television Broadcasting System Ranging from epics to comedy ...

Article

Justin David Gifford

author, professor of creative writing, actor, television host, and key figure in the black crime fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Gladys Pruitt Heard, a blues singer, and Nathan E. Heard, a laborer. Heard was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, and, at the age of fifteen, he dropped out of high school. Heard spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in reform school and then in New Jersey State Prison at Trenton for armed robbery and parole violation.

Like his fellow African American crime writers Chester Himes and Donald Goines, Heard began his literary career while behind bars. It was while he was serving eight years in prison for armed robbery in the early 1960s that Heard began reading the fiction of the Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs and other ...

Article

Steven R. Carter

Born in Mobile, Alabama, Woodie King, Jr., moved to Detroit with his parents, Woodie and Ruby King, when he was five. From 1955 to 1968 to help out his family, which was supported by his mother's housework, King worked as a model for church fans and calendars. He attended Michigan's Will-O-Way School of the Theatre on scholarship from 1958 to 1962, studying every element of the theater while immersing himself in black literature. In 1959, he married casting agent Willie Mae Washington with whom he would have three children. From 1959 to 1962, King wrote drama criticism for the Detroit Tribune.

Both at Will-O-Way and at Wayne State University and the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, where he did postgraduate study in theater, King lamented the lack of acting opportunities for blacks and, with Ron Milner cofounded the Concept East Theatre As its manager ...

Article

Christopher Phelps

writer and activist, was the second of two sons born to Reverend W. D. Lester, a Methodist minister, and Julia (Smith) Lester in St. Louis, Missouri. When he was two years old the family moved to Kansas City, Kansas. His father, seeking dignity, invariably wore a suit and tie, teaching his sons that separate “colored” facilities were demeaning and never to be used. The family spent its summers in the South at the rural home of Lester's maternal grandmother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Lester's early precocity manifested itself in his love for reading and a propensity to challenge teachers. A childhood spent deep within the folds of the black community did not shield him from terror and anger. He later wrote that under segregation, “Hope was the name some dreamer bestowed on a daughter, … change was what the white man at the store might give you ...

Article

Born Grace Emily Akinyi in the village of Butere in western Kenya, Grace Ogot received her early education in local schools before training as a nurse in Uganda and England. After working as a nurse in the 1950s in Kenya and Uganda, she pursued various career routes, although her writing continued to draw on her nursing experience.

Ogot worked as a broadcaster and scriptwriter for the British Broadcasting Corporation in London in 1959 and 1960 and later as an announcer on a weekly radio magazine program in the Luo and Kiswahili languages for the Voice of Kenya broadcasting company. Her career moved in a literary direction in the early 1960s, and she wrote most of her works in English. Her first novel, The Promised Land (1966 explores the issue of marriage in modern Kenya especially a woman s relationship to her husband It also considers the relation of ...

Article

J. Roger Kurtz

Kenyan writer, was born on 15 May 1930 in Asembo in the Nyanza District of western Kenya. Ogot grew up in an Anglican family; her father taught at Ng’iya Girls’ School, then run by the Church Mission Society (CMS), the mission arm of the Anglican Church.

Ogot attended Ng iya Girls School and Butere Girls High School and took her post secondary training in health care In the 1950s she studied nursing first in Uganda and later in England as one of the first Kenyan women to go abroad for higher education While in London she worked as a broadcaster and scriptwriter for the British Broadcasting Corporation Upon returning to East Africa Ogot served as head nurse at Maseno Mission Hospital in western Kenya also a CMS institution and later at the Student Health Services of Makerere University College in Uganda She held posts as a community development officer a ...

Article

Lisa C. Lakes

author, was born Frances Delores Ross in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest child of Bernetta Bass, a store clerk, and Gerald Ross, a welder. The Ross family, which included Fran's two younger brothers, lived on Pearl Street in Philadelphia in a home owned by the children's maternal grandmother, Lena Bass. Ross attended George Brooks Elementary School and Shoemaker Junior High School, both predominantly white and Jewish. In spite of attending schools where she was one of few blacks, Ross was an active participant in West Philadelphia's black community, attending church five blocks from her home. As a member of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, located at 5732 Race Street, she played basketball for different church and youth centers. Just prior to her sixteenth birthday, Ross graduated with honors from Overbrook High School, where the famed professional basketball player Wilt Chamberlain played varsity basketball She enrolled at Temple ...