Through history we have been graced with wonderful poets, writers, orators, actors and actresses. Those that honed their craft, and gave us pause to think about all matters of life. Some have written great novels, others short stories, and others poetry that made your heart stand still.
Amongst the honored writers and poets of our time, Gwendolyn Brooks made her mark in history. She was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950. She was made, Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968.
Growing up in Chicago, Brooks was encouraged to write by her parents; her mother a former teacher, and her father, a janitor, who once aspired to be a doctor, but could not afford medical school. Brooks was said to be encouraged also by such writers as, Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson.
Gwendolyn Brooks published her first poem in a children's magazine at the age of thirteen. Her writing was about ordinary African Americans. She often said that beauty could be found in the commonplace. Ms. Brooks was a champion of African-American writers, which prompted her to market her work through black publishers. Her poem, We Real Cool, focused on the problems of black youth.
Her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville was published in 1945. It was followed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Annie Allen in 1949. Other works by Brooks included, The Bean Eaters, In the Mecca, and Maud Martha, her only novel.
Brooks taught at several colleges and universities throughout her career. She began in 1962, teaching creative writing. She taught at such colleges and universities as: Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In 1988, Gwendolyn Brooks was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Brooks, after short battle with cancer, died on December 3rd, 2000, at the age of 83.