100 Black Innovators in 10 Days (DAY 2: Writers)

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June 22, 2020

Welcome to 100 Black Innovators in 10 Days, a campaign aiming to showcase the work, voices, and impact that these innovators have had throughout history. Today we are featuring the work of 10 Black Writers. Across a variety of different genres, these individuals use their command of language and imagination to bridge reality with dreams, to challenge and inspire, and to give voice to those historically and currently silenced.


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014)

Maya Angelou was an acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but became most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. Her poetry has been lauded for its depictions of Black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit.




James BaldwinJames Baldwin (1924 - 1987)

Baldwin was an American novelistplaywrightessayistpoet, and activist. His works fictionalize fundamental personal dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures. Themes of masculinitysexualityrace and class intertwine to create intricate narratives that run parallel with some of the major political movements in mid-twentieth-century America.





Ida WellsIda Wells-Barnett (1862 - 1931)

In addition to being one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Wells also contributed as an investigative journalist and educator. She was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 in recognition of her work covering the lynching of African Americans in the late 1890s.





Edwidge DanticatEdwidge Danticat (1969 - )

Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American author whose most important work was Farming of the Bones. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, written several children's books in addition to her novels and was a 2009 MacArthur fellow. Three themes are prominent in Danticat's work: national identity, mother-daughter relationships, and diasporic politics.





Frederick DouglassFrederick Douglass (1818 - 1895)

Douglass was a famous author, orator, and activist. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, one of most famous of all American autobiographies, he details his life as a slave, his escape, and his continued encounters with racism in the North. His book and many of his other writings are often included in The Human Event. 





Patricia Hill CollinsPatricia Hill Collins (1948 - )

Patricia Hill Collins is a social theorist and prominent public intellectual whose writings and research on Black Feminist resistance epistemology challenge more modern understandings of how marginalized groups experience hegemony. 






Toni MorrisonToni Morrison (1931 - 2019)

One of the most famous American writers, Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. In addition to writing plays and children’s books, her novels have earned her countless prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Some of her works include Beloved and The Bluest Eye.





Langston HughesLangston Hughes (1902 - 1967)

Langston Hughes was an African American writer whose poems, columns, novels and plays made him a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. His works explored the lived experiences of Black Americans.






Octavia ButlerOctavia Butler (1947 - 2006)

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Science Fiction, Octavia Butler is the most famous African American science fiction author. In her works, she challenged taken-for-granted notions of race, gender, sexuality, and power, using the "what if?" that marks the science fiction genre. 





Claude McKayClaude McKay (1889 - 1948)

Claude McKay was a Jamaican writer and poet, and he became one of the most famous authors to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. His works have also been important in inspiring Caribbean independence movements. He wrote five novels, several collections of poetry, and two autobiographies.  





Want to learn more? Stay tuned as we highlight 100 black innovators from a wide range of fields. We hope you feel inspired by the accomplishments of these immensely talented individuals. In case you missed it, check out the innovators we highlighted from the field of music on day 1.