A Writer Lost in Time

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about diversity in the media. Hollywood has made a change towards inclusivity, whether it’s body types or racial diversity, but I think it’s about time they stop white washing the media. One woman who was prolific and influential not only gaining prestige, but also breaking the barriers of race in the literary world was Gwendolyn Brooks. 

 Born in 1917, Gwendolyn Brooks grew up in Chicago, and in the face of many racial injustices turned to writing. Brooks is the first African American author to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for her work Annie Allen. She often wrote narratives of people in black urban communities, based on her experiences and those of her neighbors living in Chicago.

  She had a prolific writing career during which she wrote more than twenty books on poetry. Brooks was appointed the Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968, a position she held until she died in 2000. In 1969 she won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, an award that is given to honor a written work that shows an understanding of racism and the diversity of our society.

Her writing gave people the opportunity to see into the lives of African American communities, allowing for a better understanding of the social climate of the era. And in 1976 not only was she inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters for her literary works, but she also received the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America.

Gaining the prestige to become the first African American woman to be the consultant of poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985, and the Poet Laureate of the United States. And in 1988 Brooks was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Then in 1989 she was awarded the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement by the Poetry Society of America. As a writer myself I am in awe of her many awards.

In 1994 she presented the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecture, and she also received the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 1995 Brooks was presented with the National Medal of Arts. In 1997 she was awarded the Order of Lincoln which is the highest honor granted by the state of Illinois. Then in 1999 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement.

Before a few quick google searches, I did not know who Gwendolyn Brooks was or that she had ever existed, yet she did so much to improve the world we live in. Brooks opened the doors to the expansion of diversity in our nation.