Meet The First African-American Poet Consultant In The Library of Congress

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Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks, of Chicago, made major moves during a time when most African-Americans were being harshly discriminated against. Brooks, a respected poet, was the first African-American woman to become a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress in the 1980s. Prior to making that major achievement, Brooks published a number of poetry books.

In 1945, she published a book titled “A Street in Bronzeville,” which brought her national acclaim. She was named one of the Ten Young Women of the Year in Mademoiselle magazine. In 1950, her second book, “Annie Allen,” was published and earned her the Pulitzer Prize. She was the first African-American poet to receive the coveted award. Brooks’ accolades didn’t stop there. In 1989, she received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. And in 1994, she was named a Jefferson Lecturer by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for work in the humanities.

Brooks tried to encourage young students – particularly those who were African American – to write, to be passionate about their lives, to stay in school and to be proud of who they were and who they could become in all of her works. She was fortunate because her family encouraged her to read books and write prolifically. They took her to meet fellow Kansan Langston Hughes, who was one of the nation’s most important writers in the Harlem Renaissance, a movement that celebrated African-American life and culture. She would say, “I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker.” She began writing at age 11. By 13, her first poem, “Eventide,” was published in “American Childhood.”

She lived a long, prosperous life and died in Chicago at the age of 83 on December 3, 2000.


  1. Queen V

    May 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Bless her and the many others who have achieved such great accomplishments and promote true self love within African Americans. I wish and pray that one day, we can be flooded with the message and images of people like this more-so than the flooding of violence and messages of hate throughout media outlets…but the truth is, if we don’t start that kind of positive bombardment, it may never become so, nor be realized. Every single day I would LOVE to hear about women and men of color who have inspired, risen, conquored, loved, been loved, and made paths that I could walk on or that I could learn from to build my own paths from. Bless you sister Brooks.

  2. Ms. Billie & Son Christian Daly

    May 22, 2013 at 1:08 am

    My son Christian studied her Poetry in College @ USC. The poem he likes the best is: “We Real Kool!”

    • Ms. Billie & Son Christian Daly

      June 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      I truly enjoyed the story and the informative information the provided.

    • Ms. Billie & Son Christian Daly

      June 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      I truly enjoyed the story and the informative information the story provided.

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