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Sandra Y. Govan

A Los Angeles native and later resident of Vancouver, Washington, Steven Emory Barnes is the third African American author after 1960 to have chosen science fiction and fantasy writing as his primary profession. Barnes established himself through the 1980s as a determined and disciplined writer, one who had followed a cherished childhood dream to become a commercially successful professional writer.

The youngest child of Emory F. Barnes and Eva Mae (Reeves) Barnes, Steven Barnes grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles High, Los Angeles City College, and Pepperdine University, Malibu, California (1978–1980 At Pepperdine he majored in communication arts but withdrew from school before completing a degree frustrated because he thought no one on the faculty could teach him about building a career as a professional writer It was not until Barnes made contact with established science fiction writer Ray Bradbury who sent the novice ...

Article

Sandria Green-Stewart

was born on 21 April 1925 in Bunker’s Hill, Trelawny, Jamaica, to Robert Patterson, a butcher and farmer, and Carolyn Anderson-Patterson, a seamstress. She recalled that her father wanted her to become a nurse, but that as a child she “was teaching everything in sight” (interview with author). Patterson attended Unity All-Age School and Bethlehem Teachers’ College, and after graduating in the mid-1940s taught at Tweedside Primary School, in the parish of Clarendon, where she was responsible for three classes. At Tweedside she began a career in teaching that lasted more than forty years.

Patterson completed the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) through independent learning. After securing a government scholarship, she attended the University of the West Indies, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education in 1951. On 15 April 1953 she married Alvin S Chambers and a year later the couple moved to ...

Article

Lovalerie King

Born 24 September 1948 in New York City to Richard Hill and Mae De Veaux, Alexis De Veaux received a BA from Empire State College in 1976. She earned both an MA (1989) and a PhD (1992) at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

An internationally recognized author, De Veaux has published her work in English, Spanish, Japanese, Serbo-Croatian, and Dutch. She has lectured and performed across the United States, as well as abroad in Kenya (1985 NGO Forum, Nairobi), Holland (Melkweg International Women's Festival, Amsterdam), Cuba (UNEAC Writers Union, Havana), and Japan (Tokyo Joshi Women's University, Tokyo; Black Studies Association, Osaka). Her published works include six books (Na-Ni, 1973; Spirits in the Street, 1973; Don’t Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday, 1980; Blue Heat: Poems and Drawings, 1985; An Enchanted Hair ...

Article

Jean Smith

was born on 28 May 1953 in Clarendon, Jamaica, to Eckford Ellington, an educator, and Mary “Mae” Williams, a homemaker. She had three brothers from other unions. It was her mother’s interest in community associations and volunteerism that laid a foundation for Ellington’s future work in community service.

Fae attended St. Hugh’s High School in Kingston, Jamaica, where she discovered her interest in the performing arts. At St. Hugh’s she was a member of the drama society, the school choir, and orchestra (playing the recorder and the triangle). She also rose to the position of president of the debating society. Her talents earned her one of four places in a television commercial when she was in third form, earning her twenty-one shillings.

A strong interest in drama led her to the Jamaica School of Drama, where she was a foundation member, and a career in theater that began in 1971 ...

Article

Allison Kimmich

Calvin Forbes was born the seventh of eight children in Newark, New Jersey, to Jacob and Mary Short Forbes. He was the first of the six boys in his family to graduate from high school, and he attended Rutgers University briefly before entering the New School for Social Research in New York City. There Forbes studied with poet José García Villa, who taught him the fundamentals of writing.

Forbes continued to educate himself through travel, and he was on the move frequently throughout the 1960s. He traveled widely in Europe and hitchhiked from coast to coast in America with only a suitcase, a sleeping bag, and a portable typewriter as his baggage. Forbes also lived in Hawaii for a short time; his stay there was instrumental to his writing the poems for his first volume, Blue Monday (1974 Observing Hawaii s Asian American culture Forbes began ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Badi Foster was born in Chicago to an interracial Baha'i family. His father (William) was black, and his mother (Ruth) was white. When Badi (which means “wonderful” in Arabic and is the name of a celebrated Baha'i martyr) was eleven, his parents moved to Morocco as pioneers (missionaries) for the Baha'i religion. He spent his adolescence in that country, learning French and Arabic. He attended the American School in Casablanca to the eighth grade, and then transferred to the American School of Tangiers where he completed his high school education in 1960.

As a consequence of learning new languages and negotiating new cultures Foster discovered that although Morocco had its own structures of inequality and oppression American notions of race were unknown there He explains that as a boy therefore he was vaccinated against racism never internalizing ideas or racial inferiority and gaining important insights even as a teenager ...

Article

Joanna Davenport

It was a historic moment. In the 1990 Wimbledon women’s singles final, Martina Navratilova won her ninth singles title, a record held by no other person, when she defeated Zina Garrison, the first black woman to play on Wimbledon’s center court since 1958, when Althea Gibson won her second of two Wimbledon crowns. Being first has been a common occurrence for the professional tennis player Zina Garrison.

Zina Garrison, the youngest of seven children, was born in Houston, Texas, to Mary and Ulysses Garrison Her father died before she was a year old so Garrison was raised by her mother who worked as an aide in a nursing home When Zina was ten she began playing tennis at the local public park courts where she received instruction from the resident coach Impressed with her talent he entered her in local tournaments where she did well By the ...

Article

Bobby Donaldson

One of the chief advocates of the Black Aesthetic, Addison Gayle, Jr., was born in Newport News, Virginia, on 2 June 1932. Inspired by the growing example of Richard Wright, young Gayle became a fastidious reader and hoped that a writing career would enable him to over come the strictures of poverty and racism. By the time he graduated from high school in 1950, Gayle had completed a three-hundred-page novel.

Unable to attend college or secure profitable employment, Gayle joined the air force. During his short stint, he wrote copious drafts of his novel, short stories, and poetry and submitted them for publication. After an honorable discharge and several rejection letters from publishers, Gayle reluctantly returned to Virginia.

In 1960, Gayle enrolled in the City College of New York and received his BA in 1965. The following year he earned an MA in English ...

Article

Barnsley E. Brown

P. J. Gibson has demonstrated her talent in writing ranging from poems and short stories to public service announcements and media publications. However, she is best known for her plays, three of which have been anthologized.

Gibson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. While in her early teens, she studied under J. P. Miller (The Days of Wine and Roses, 1973). In the early 1970s, she earned a BA in drama, religion, and English from Keuka College in New York. She was then awarded a Shubert Fellowship to study playwriting at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where she completed her MFA in 1975. Aside from J. P. Miller, Gibson's mentors include Don Peterson (Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, 1969) and Israel Horovitz (Indian Wants the Bronx, 1968).

Although Gibson has had several mentors Lorraine ...

Article

Virginia C. Fowler

Born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr., on 7 June in Knoxville, Tennessee, to Jones and Yolande Giovanni, Nikki Giovanni became one of the most prominent young poets to emerge from the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her initial achievement of national recognition grew out of the militant, revolutionary poems included in her first two volumes, Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968) and Black Judgement (1969); this early success became the foundation for a sustained career as an important, often controversial, writer, the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including ten honorary doctorates.

Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Giovanni was profoundly influenced by and has consciously identified with the values and traditions of the South. She spent many summer vacations with her maternal grandparents in Knoxville and lived with them during her high school years (1957–1960 Her grandmother ...

Article

Virginia C. Fowler

Nikki Giovanni emerged from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s to become one of the most widely admired and emulated poets and speakers of her time. Acting on her belief that poetry is “the culture of a people” and that it should, like food, be available to everyone, Giovanni for more than thirty-five years crisscrossed the country to weave her tapestry of poetry and lecture before audiences of every kind.

Nikki Giovanni was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni Jr. in Knoxville, Tennessee her mother s hometown Just two months after Giovanni was born her parents took the family north to Cincinnati Ohio to find better employment and a freer environment Like many children whose parents were a part of the Great Migration however Giovanni and her sister returned South in the summer staying in Knoxville with their maternal grandparents andabsorbing many of the traditions and values associated with southern ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

one of the most celebrated, controversial, and enduring voices to emerge from the Black Arts Movement. Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, to Jones and Yolande Watson Giovanni. Giovanni moved with her parents and sister to suburban Cincinnati when she was two months old. She lived there until early in her high school career, when her parents’ breakup led Giovanni to move back to Knoxville to live with her maternal grandparents.

Giovanni began to take writing seriously while she was a student at Fisk University, where she edited the student literary magazine, helped to reestablish the university's chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and took creative writing workshops with Fisk's writer in residence, John Oliver Killens. Shortly after she graduated with honors in the spring of 1967 Giovanni endured the death of her grandmother became a single mother of a son and like ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Nikki Giovanni, one of the best-known contemporary black poets, rose to prominence in the 1960s as part of the generation of young black poets of the Black Arts Movement and Black Power Movement. The work of these young poets reflects their radical political views. A typical poem of hers from that era, titled “My Poem” begins:

i am 25 years old

black female poet

wrote a poem asking

nigger can you kill

if they kill me

it won't stop

the revolution

While Giovanni's Black Arts poetry is still often anthologized, her range has expanded throughout the decades to reflect other facets of the African American experience.

Giovanni, originally named Yolande Cornelia after her mother, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Wyoming Ohio She spent the summers and her junior and senior years of high school with her grandmother in Knoxville Intelligent bold and outspoken since childhood Giovanni ...

Article

Kim D. Hester Williams Graham

Lorenz Bell Graham was born on 27 January 1902 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Elizabeth Etta Bell Graham and David Andrew Graham, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister whose duties led the family to various parts of the country. After attending and completing high school in Seattle, Graham pursued undergraduate study at the University of Washington in 1921; the University of California, Los Angeles from 1923 to 1924; and Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, from 1934 to 1936, where he received his bachelor's degree.

One of the consequential events of Graham's life came when he interrupted his college studies at UCLA in 1924 in order to travel to Liberia West Africa The decision was initiated by a bishop of the AME Church who had established a school in Liberia and whom Graham had heard make a plea for the help of trained young people He soon ...

Article

Marva O. Banks

Born in Newark, New Jersey, on 7 November 1936, to Nathan E. and Gladys Fruitt Heard (a blues singer), Nathan Cliff Heard was reared by his mother and maternal grandmother in Newark's inner city; he dropped out of school at fifteen, drifted into a life of crime, and spent the next seventeen years (1951–1968) in and out of New Jersey State Prison at Trenton where he served time for armed robbery.

While in prison Heard distinguished himself as a talented and award-winning athlete. It was not until fellow prisoner Harold Carrington introduced him to the masters—Langston Hughes, Samuel Beckett, James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Amiri Baraka, and others—that Heard began to write, at first about music and African history. In 1963, encouraged by his fellow inmates, he wrote the manuscript for To Reach a Dream Although the novel did not sell ...

Article

Pero Gaglo Dagbovie

A scholar of national renown, Darlene Clark Hine has published pathbreaking scholarship; introduced and developed new and existing fields of scholarly inquiries; provided leadership for various groups of scholars; and mentored and trained several generations of historians. She served as president of the Organization of American Historians (2001-2002) and the Southern Historical Association (2002-2003). During her productive, decades-long career as a professional historian, Hine has taught at eight different universities, published several books, cowritten and coedited a dozen scholarly volumes, edited three major works, written more than fifty journal articles and chapters in anthologies, presented more than sixty papers in professional venues, lectured at universities all over the United States, and served on countless programming, advisory, and nominating committees and editorial boards. Since the mid-1980s, Hine has received numerous grants, awards, and honors, including honorary doctorates from Purdue University and Buffalo State College, the Detroit News ...

Article

Barbara Lowe

Born 1 January 1908 in Columbus, Ohio, Jesse Jackson attended local schools and completed three years at Ohio State University's School of Journalism (1927–1929) before dropping out to work on the Ohio State Press. Jackson experienced a wide variety of jobs, including stints as an Olympic hopeful in boxing, a boxer in a carnival, a soda-jerk in Atlantic City, a juvenile probation officer, an employee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (1951–1968), and a lecturer at Appalachian State University (from 1974).

While working as a juvenile probation officer Jackson realized the need for books that would interest nonreaders as well as address the social issues facing African American teenagers Jackson was assigned the case of three fourteen to sixteen year old African American youths who had been sentenced to life terms in the Ohio State Penitentiary for robbing a restaurant and killing the owner ...

Article

Zodwa Motsa

Nigerian playwright, novelist, short story writer, dramatist, critic, and political analyst, was born on 21 April 1943 in Akure, western Nigeria. He was raised in the Yoruba tradition but has been a resident of South Africa since 1991. Known also as Bankole Ajibabi, his life is a rich academic tapestry woven across Africa and Western Europe.

Omotoso received his secondary education in Lagos, Nigeria (1962–63), and the University of Ibadan (1968). In 1972 he received his doctoral degree in Arabic and French from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Omotoso started as a lecturer in the department of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1972–1976), becoming a senior lecturer and head of the department of drama and director of the Life University Theatre (now Obafemi Awolowo University, 1976–1988). Between 1989 and 1991 he was a visiting professor in English at the University ...

Article

Robert Fay

Kole Omotoso was born into a Yoruba family in Akura, Nigeria and received his early education in local schools. Inspired by his uncle, the author Olaiya Fagbamigbe, and by evenings spent listening to Yoruba folktales, Omotoso went on to publish stories while at King’s College in Lagos. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in French and Arabic from the University of Ibadan in 1968 and a docorate in modern Arabic literature from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1972. He returned to Nigeria to write and teach, and took a post as professor at the University of Ibadan in 1976.

Influenced by the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka Omotoso s increasingly political writings have dealt with issues affecting Africa s future from the perspective of ordinary people Omotoso believes in the power of the arts to bring social change He contributes frequently to magazines and ...

Article

John Lowe

Brenda Marie Osbey, born in New Orleans in 1957, has roots in Creole culture that run deep and give her work a haunting sense of place. No one since Walker Percy has made more memorable music out of the names of the city's streets and the people who throng them. Her poetry offers more than a slice of local color, however, for the metropolis she summons up quickly and magically becomes a backdrop for a display of the ambiance of the black feminine mind. Her women lead lives that often erupt in violence and sometimes end with madness. But alongside all this-and often because of it–we find a riveting poignance and searing beauty.

Osbey has said that her poetry forms a kind of cultural biography and geography of Louisiana but one finds influences from her travels and sojourns elsewhere She attended Dillard University Université Paul Valéry at Montpélliér ...