Black Women Writers You Should Know About
March 10, 2023
There are four Black women writers that I believe play an important role in the world of writing. My introduction to these writers mostly began in school and influenced my drive and passion not just for writing and storytelling, but Black writing and storytelling. These writers are Octavia E. Butler, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison.
Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler was one of the first African American female science fiction writers. I read and studied Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower last semester in my Popular Literature Class which was my favorite out of all the assigned readings in the course. It was an apocalyptic/utopian piece of work that aims to address the conditions of the world and the future of humankind. On my radar for good reads from Butler’s collection, is her science fiction novel Kindred that explores American slavery through the utilization of time travel.
I can’t recount exactly when I was introduced to Maya Angelou, but I have always been aware of her notable presence in the literary world since I was a young girl. I did study a bit of Ms. Angelou’s work in a Women Writers course I took in college. She has many collections of works with one of her most famous pieces being a poem titled “Still I Rise”. She is most known for her unique writing style as an author but Ms. Angelou was many things. She was a singer, a dancer, and a poet. But she was also a civil rights activist and was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement during the sixties. She worked with revolutionary figures such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King on different human rights initiatives and served an important role during such a significant period to fight for justice and fight the struggles that African Americans were facing.
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American writer whose works had a heavy focus on African American life in the South. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was also a piece of work that I read in the Women’s Writer’s course and is the perfect introduction to her as an author. The story essentially follows the main character, a young Black woman, who is on a quest for love. Hurston has a collection of novels, short stories and plays and her presence was significant during the Harlem Renaissance period. Zora Neale Hurston is an author whose works and influence I definitely would like to dive into a little deeper.
My first introduction to Toni Morrison, again was in college in the Women’s Writer’s course that I took. I covered a lot of Ms. Morrison’s work in which I also took a course that was dedicated specifically to her literary creations. Throughout my college journey in studying Ms. Morrison’s works, I grew to appreciate her artistry as a writer especially because she was breaking boundaries as a Black female novelist. Although I have always had a deep interest in English Literature, studying her work prompted me to want to explore and study the area more in depth. Toni Morrison’s work holds heavy significance not only in my own literary journey but also the entire literary world itself especially for Black writers. The Black American experience is a prominent theme within Toni Morrison’s works and her novel Beloved is a prime example which was also adapted into a film. The focus of the story surrounds the effects that slavery has on its victims within freedom and how they struggle to function physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I must say, if there is one novel you should read by Toni Morrison, it’s her first novel The Bluest Eye.
The most obvious common factor between these remarkable women writers is that they are Black females, but I believe the most significant factor that ties them all together was their eagerness to highlight and center their works around Black experiences in all capacities.