One of the amazing American sagas is the history of African-American Literature. It is a history of a literature that rose out of slavery, oppression and racism to become one of the great literary traditions in the world. Great African American Authors, an eight part series, brings to light the accomplishments of over 40 brilliant black writers, who against all odds wrote great novels, plays and poetry. These authors include Phillis Wheatley, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Rita Dove and many more. Their story is the story of America, the story that all Americans should know.
Eight programs on 3 DVDs
Shot in High Definition
- Program 1: 1761 - 1901
Born out of slavery and the African oral tradition, African American Authors gave voice to the struggles of black people in the early days of this nation.
1761 - Jupiter Hammon, America's First Published Black Writer
1773 - Phillis Wheatley Completes Her Poems on Various Subjects
1855 - Frederick Douglass Publishes My Bondage and My Freedom
1899 - Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'Sympathy'
1901 - Booker T. Washington's Autobiography, Up From Slavery
- Program 2: 1902 - 1924
The onset of the 20th Century gave rise to a new cadre of African American Authors, embodied in the great literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.
1903 - W.E.B. Du Bois Pens The Souls of Black Folk
1912 - James Weldon Johnson Writes About Black Identity
1919 - Alain LeRoy Locke, Architect of the Harlem Renaissance
1921 - 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers' by Langston Hughes
1924 - Alice Dunbar Nelson, Interpreter of Black Culture
- Program 3: 1925 - 1937
The Harlem Renaissance ended as America entered the Great Depression, but new black authors came to the forefront to contribute to the ever-growing body of African American Literature.
1925 - Countee Cullen Pens 'Heritage'
1928 - Jessie Redmon Fauset Publishes Plum Bun
1932 - Sterling A. Brown, Master of Dialect
1936 - Arna Bontemps, Black Thunder
1937 - Zora Neale Hurston Completes Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Program 4: 1938 - 1953
New Black literary genres challenge the racial inequalities of mainstream America, and the idea of "Black is beautiful" emerges.
1940 - Richard Wright, Father of Black Protest Fiction
1950 - Gwendolyn Brooks, First Black Pulitzer Prize Recipient
1953 - Ralph Ellison Wins National Book Award
1953 - James Baldwin Writes Go Tell It on the Mountain
- Program 5: 1954 - 1967
With the Civil Rights Movement in full swing, racial tensions escalate in America. In response African American writers give rise to a new literary expression - Black Power.
1957 - Chester Himes, First Black Crime Fiction Writer
1959 - Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is Produced
1965 - The Autobiography of Malcolm X
1965 - Amiri Baraka, Father of the Black Arts Movement
1967 - Nikki Giovanni, "Princess of Black Poetry"
- Program 6: 1968 - 1982
African American Literature expands and diversifies into a wide array of styles and genres, but still takes on the growing cultural and economic divide between Whites and Blacks.
1969 - Maya Angelou Writes Her Autobiography
1972 - Toni Cade Bambara Publishes Gorilla, My Love
1973 - Alice Childress, A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich
1975 - Ed Bullins Premieres The Taking of Miss Janie
1976 - Alex Haley's Groundbreaking Roots
1982 - Gloria Naylor Celebrates the Black Woman
- Program 7: 1982 - 1993
A Golden Age in African American Literature begins as black authors find new exciting ways to interpret their role in America.
1982 - Alice Walker Writes The Color Purple
1987 - Lucille Clifton's Poetry Celebrates the Female Body
1987 - August Wilson Wins Pulitzer for Fences
1988 - Yusef Komunyakaa Pens 'Facing It'
1990 - Walter Mosley Introduces Easy Rawlins
1993 - Toni Morrison Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature
- Program 8: 1993 - Present
Black poets, playwrights and novelists bring their unique perspective into the 21st Century, and a new wave of writers come on to the scene.
1993 - Ernest J. Gaines Completes A Lesson Before Dying
1993 - Rita Dove is Appointed Poet Laureate of the United States
2001 - Cornelius Eady Writes Brutal Imagination
2002 - Suzan-Lori Parks Wins Pulitzer for Topdog/Underdog
2012 - Natasha Trethewey and the New Wave