Throughout America’s history, Black female writers have represented a rich and diverse body of literature. The narratives they’ve added to American storytelling have shifted perspectives and created new dialogues around race, culture, politics, religion, and sociology, where in many cases, their work has gone as far as changing policies, practices, and cultural norms. To celebrate some of the accomplishments of these great authors, the ERA Coalition wants to highlight some of the most prominent Black female journalists, poets, and novelists — both in history and today!
Yamiche Alcindor is an African American journalist who has quickly become one of the most influential journalists in the world. She served as the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and provides political commentary for NBC News and MSNBC, and received the “Journalist of the Year” award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) for 2020.
Abby Phillip is a journalist, the senior political correspondent for CNN, and the anchor of Inside Politics Sunday. Before joining CNN as a White House correspondent, she worked for Politico, ABC, and the Washington Post. Phillip also co-moderated the seventh Democratic debate of the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries at Drake University on January 14, 2020.
Errin Haines is an MSNBC contributor and the founder of The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that covers the intersection of women, politics, and policy. She also serves as Editor for The 19th. Errin was formerly the National Writer on Race and Ethnicity for the Associated Press, and is an accomplished political journalist who focuses on issues of race, gender, and politics. She has previously held positions at The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel, and The Washington Post.
Audre Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Lorde’s contributions to feminist theory, critical race studies, and queer theory intertwine her personal experiences with broader political aims, as she articulated early on the intersections of race, class, and gender in canonical essays such as “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House.”
“But I who am bound by my mirror / as well as my bed / see causes in colour / as well as sex / and sit here wondering / which me will survive / all these liberations”Audre Lorde, From a Land Where Other People Live
Nayyirah Waheed is a reclusive writer who doesn’t reveal many details about her life, her poetry is frequently shared through social media accounts. Her poetry is known for being “short and minimalistic” and “incredibly touching”, covering topics such as love, identity, race, and feminism.
“When I am afraid to speak is when I speak.Nayyirah Waheed, Salt
That is when it is most important.”
Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period.
“The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike Straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” from Selected Poems
Alice Walker is an American writer whose novels, short stories, and poems are noted for their insightful treatment of African American culture. Her novels, most notably The Color Purple (1982), focus particularly on women. Walker today is a feminist and vocal advocate for human rights, and has earned critical and popular acclaim as a major American novelist and intellectual.
Zora Neale Hurston was a world-renowned writer and anthropologist. Hurston’s novels, short stories, and plays often depicted African American life in the South. Her work in anthropology examined black folklore. Hurston influenced many writers, forever cementing her place in history as one of the foremost female writers of the 20th century.
Octavia Butler was a renowned African American author who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including PARABLE OF THE SOWER (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and PARABLE OF THE TALENTS (1995) winner of the Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel published that year. She was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future.