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Beals, Melba Pattillo
As a teenager, Melba Beals was caught up in a civil rights firestorm. After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, Beals was hopeful that she could attend the prestigious Little Rock Central High School. When a federal judge ordered Centtal High to desegregate in 1957 the NAACP recruited Beals and other black teens for this difficult task. Angry mobs blocked the black students from entering the high school, resulting in a three-week standoff between students and segregationists. President Eisenhower had to send troops to escort the black students into the school and force integration. Even with this protection, Beals and the other black students had to endure slurs, fights, and physical abuse as part of the first integrated class at Central High. In a later interview about her experiences, Beals noted that she wanted to attend Central for the educational opportunities, not to be the first to integrate. As a result other experience, Beals learned to relate to the media and pursued a career in journalism. After receiving a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University, Beals worked as a news reporter in California. Her novels Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock Central High School and White Is a State of Mind were influential works describing the desegregation of public schools. In 1999 the nine students who integrated LRHS were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Born in New York and sometimes called "the Studs Terkel of American teens" Janet Bode at first earned a living as a teacher in Germany, Mexico, and Florida. She also worked for the Girl Scouts of America. After a brutal gang rape, she turned to writing as a form of therapy. Once she began writing, she did not shy away from any topic, from sibling relationships to rape and death. Many of her books resulted from talking with teens about their problems. Bodes fourteen books for teenagers have received twenty-six major awards from the National Council for Social Studies, the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, and others. Bode died of breast cancer on December31, 1999, at the age of 56.
After receiving a BA from Connecticut College in 1989, Warren Cohen joined the research staff of Common Cause magazine. He became a researcher for U.S. News and World Report in 1990 and later reported on regional issues for that publication. Cohen worked for U.S News until 2000, when he became a senior news producer for the VH1 cable network. He co-wrote 23 Days of Terror, which depicts the Washington, D.C. sniper shootings, with fellow U.S. News writer Angie Cannon.
In a writing career spanning over twenty years, Wim Coleman has written novels, plays, works of nonfiction, and many stories for children. He often writes with his wife, Pat Perrin, Their newest novel, The Maya Gateway, investigates mythology, technology, and risk. Coleman’s Stages of History is a collection of royalty-free one-act plays about exciting events in American history, and his Nine Muses is a collection of original plays based on classic myths. Both are available from Perfection Learning.
Harold Courlander was an important folklorist who lived and worked all over the world. He wrote many novels and authored or edited more than thirty volumes of folktales featuring stories from Haiti, the American Southwest, Africa, Asia, India, and other cultures.
Although there was no official documentation, Countee Cullen was effectively adopted by Reverend Fred A. and Carolyn Cullen. Fred Cullen was a pioneer black activist minister whose views had a strong impression on his son. However, Countee Cullen’s poetry often reflects unease towards this strong and conservative Christian training. Cullen won his first writing contest while in high school, with the poem "I Have a Rendezvous with Life." While attending New York University, Cullen wrote most of the poems for his first three volumes, Color, Copper Sun, and The Ballad of the Brown Girl. After graduating from NYU, Cullen earned his Masters degree from Harvard University in English and French. He won more prizes than any other black writer of the I 920s and was among the first African Americans to be recognized as a serious poet. Cullen wrote less after the 1930s, partly due to his position as French teacher at Frederick Douglass Junior High School.
When Rita Dove was a child, her father broke the race barrier in research chemistry When she grew up, she began breaking down barriers as a writer. In 1970 she was recognized at the White I-louse as one of the hundred most outstanding high school graduates in the United States. In 1973, she graduated summa cum laude (as well as Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi) with a degree in English and then spent the next two summers on Fuibright scholarships to Germany Dove published her first book of poetry in 1980, and in 1987 won the Pulitzer Prize for a book of poems about her grandparents. In 1993. she became the youngest person and the first African American to serve as poet laureate of the United States. In addition to poetry Dove has written and published essays, stories, and a play that was performed in theatres around the world. Currently she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, She and her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn, have a grown daughter
Du Bois, W. E. B.
W. E. B. Du Bois William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a radical attacker of injustice and defender of freedom for blacks, considered one of the most influential black leaders of the first half of the twentieth century. Du Bois helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Between 1897 and 1914 Du Bois conducted many studies of black society in America and published sixteen research papers on his findings, He began these investigations with the belief that social science could provide answers to racial problems—however Du Bois gradually concluded that in a climate of racism, social change could only be accomplished through agitation and protest. Initially, Du Bois was a firm supporter of black capitalism, but slowly he edged to the left until by 1905 he was drawn to Socialism and Marxism. In 1961 Du Bois became disillusioned with the United States and moved to Ghana, joined the Communist Party and one year later renounced his American citizenship. Du Bois died in 1963 in Accra, shortly after becoming a Ghanaian citizen.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence
One of the first African Americans to gain national recognition as a poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Ohio in 1872, the son of former slaves, Dunbar died at the early age of 33, but was quite prolific in his work, writing many short stories, novels, plays, songs, essays, and the poetry he became most famous for. He gave credit for his success to his mother, whose excitement for poetry spurred him to begin writing and reciting poems at age six. Popular with both black and white readers of his day Dunbar’s style encompasses two distinct voices—the standard English of classical poets and the evocative dialect of turn-of-the.century black America, He was very gifted in using this dialect to convey character, His poetry often addresses the difficulties encountered by blacks in America,