- Robert Elliot Fox
Ishmael Reed is one of the most original and controversial figures in the field of African American letters.
Reed was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on 22 February 1938, but he grew up in Buffalo, New York. After graduating from high school in 1956, he enrolled as a night student at Millard Fillmore College but transferred to the University of Buffalo as a day student with the assistance of an English teacher who was impressed with a story Reed had written. For financial reasons, however, Reed eventually withdrew without taking a degree. He remained in Buffalo for some time, working as a correspondent for the Empire Star Weekly, a black community newspaper, and serving as cohost of a local radio program that was canceled after Reed conducted an interview with Malcolm X.
Moving to New York City in 1962 Reed served as editor of a Newark ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.