Monday, February 27, 2017

MMT Revealed! Margaret Walker!

The famous educator's name is Margaret Walker! 

Margaret Walker wrote the neo-slave narrative Jubilee, which the Washington Post called “the first truly historical black American novel." Based on the life of her own great grandmother during and after the Civil War, Jubilee, published in 1966, took 30 years to write and research.

Described by poet Nikki Giovanni as the "most famous person nobody knows," Margaret Walker participated in nearly every important African American literary movement in 20th century.  A Birmingham native, Walker was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and during the Depression, she joined Chicago WPA Writers Project and working alongside the likes of Saul Bellow, Frank Yerby, Gwendolyn Brooks and Richard Wright. As a result of her friendship with Wright, Walker published Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, a Critical Look at His Work in 1988.

In 1942 when Margaret Walker’s poetry collection For My People won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, "she became one of the youngest Black writers ever to have published a volume of poetry in this century," as well as "the first Black woman in American literary history to be so honored in a prestigious national competition," noted Richard K. Barksdale in Black American Poets between Worlds, 1940-1960.

After completing her master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa in 1942, Walker became a professor at Jackson State University where she established the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People in 1968. She worked as the director of the program for 11 years and later it would be renamed in her honor. During the '60s Walker was an outspoken political activist and a mentor to a new generation of writers in the Black Arts movement including Nikki Giovanni. Also during this period Walker then toured, lectured, and worked on For Farish Street Green, February 27, 1986 (1986) and This is My Century: New and Collected Poems (1989).

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