Black History Month: Celebrating African American Poetry and Literature
These people helped write the autobiography of America
By Ryon Singleton
Literature and spoken word are the whispers of the mind and heart that blow in the wind the, glowing ambers of peace, love and revolution. Sparking the fires that storytellers for centuries sat in front of igniting the minds of the listener. Street poets rapping from soapboxes and street corners speaking to that voice inside that no one but yourself could hold those truths. From the days of our people landing on these western shores, our storytellers and poets have been instilling our history into the masses of a united struggle for freedom, peace and equality. Singing songs of freedom, stories of redemption and showing the strength of unity in times of need, these geniuses of African American literature are some of the historians that have added to an ever-growing Autobiography of a People.
James Baldwin was one of the greatest literary thinkers of the early 1960’s, Baldwin was born in Harlem in the 20’s during the Harlem renaissance era in New York City and began his writing career soon after finishing high school. Baldwin credits Richard Wright as one of his influences growing up. Like Wright, James Baldwin used his literal works to be a chronicler of the time, with written works that boldly asked America questions pertaining about thoughts on race, “Separate but equal” Plessy Vs. Ferguson , ethics of the Jim Crow Laws and writing about his sexuality which were social taboos of the times. James Baldwin made strides during the Civil Right Movement by appearing on talk shows and speaking to news outlets of plight facing African Americans seeking equal rights along with Martin Luther King on the march on Washington in 1963. Many of James Baldwin works lasted throughout time with some of the same questions and topics he so vividly debated that we still face as a nation today.
Gil Scott Heron
“You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials, because
The revolution will not be televised” –Gil Scott Heron