Black History Month: Literature

This second instalment of our BHM content series showcases the work of five great Black writers. Creativity is part of our everyday lives. It’s our passion, our raison d’être. For Black History Month, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate this community’s rich artistic and creative heritage. Every week in February, we’re honouring the work of Black creators in fields that are near and dear to our hearts. As the first article covered visual arts this one presents great creatives in the field of literature and the next two articles will be presenting inventors and architects respectively.

It is in our nature to praise and applaud the advancements and creations of great pioneers, groundbreakers, and revolutionaries. These creatives are never comfortable with the status quo, which motivates them to push the limits of formats and mediums, as well as the boundaries of their respective fields. Through their work, not only do they help the arts to progress, but they most importantly help society move forward, both in North America and around the world.

Let’s take advantage of Black History Month to soak in new colours, patterns and perspectives that can inspire us. Broadening our horizons, listening and understanding are what will allow us, as a community and as individuals, to grow and push our own boundaries.

Together, let’s work to tear down biases and overcome the algorithms. Let’s all celebrate the contributions of these great creatives.

Frederick Douglass 

After escaping from slavery in 1838, Frederick Douglass became a prominent abolitionist leader. A skilled orator and writer, he gave compelling speeches and wrote several autobiographies. By shedding light on the horrors of slavery, Douglass’s work largely influenced the public's support of the abolitionist movement. A true champion of equality, he also actively supported women’s suffrage.

W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois was a scholar, activist and author, and the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. In 1909 he founded the NAACP and its publication, The Crisis, both of which have played key roles in advocating for Black rights and representation. Du Bois also wrote numerous books, founded Phylon, a social science quarterly, and wrote and presented An Appeal to the World to the U.N. in 1947.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an American poet, novelist, and playwright. A central figure during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Hughes proudly wrote about the lives and realities of working-class Black Americans at a time when many found it unfashionable to do so. A pioneer in many ways, he also contributed to the development of jazz poetry, a unique new writing style at the time.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was a Pulitzer Prize winner and the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Morrison wove intricate and detailed stories through her exploration of the African American experience and, in particular, that of Black women. Her novels, including Song of Solomon and Beloved, will undoubtedly continue to capture audiences for generations to come.

Regina Porter

Regina Porter is an Iowa Writers Workshop graduate with a background in fiction and theater. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Travelers, spans six decades and follows two families, one Black and the other white. The must-read book offers an insightful and contemporary look at what it means to be American as the country begins to deal with its painful history of racism and sexism.

See you on February 15th for this series’ third article that will be showcasing the work and great legacy of six Black creatives in the field of technology. In the meantime, for more initiatives such as this one, make sure to visit our Instagram account.