By Philip Bader
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Extra info for African-American Writers , Facts on File
Her lively and lyrical poems celebrated African-American life on both physical and emotional levels. Bennett was born on July 8, 1902, in Giddings, Texas, at a time when the state of Texas refused official birth certificates to African Americans. Her parents, Joshua and Mayme Bennett, came from middle-class backgrounds and were well educated, and the family moved frequently in the early years of Bennett’s life. , where Bennett’s father studied law. When the marriage failed, Bennett continued her nomadic existence with her father, who was unwilling to give his ex-wife custody of their daughter.
Bennett, Gwendolyn 19 initiate a plot to bomb the White House and wrest control of the government from white society. The plot fails when only a handful of black revolutionaries decide to participate. Runner Mack commits suicide, and the novel ends with Henry standing in the path of a speeding truck. The novel was nominated for the National Book Award in 1972 and was widely praised for its depiction of the brutal realities of modern urban life in general and the obstacles faced by African Americans in their search for identity in an increasingly absurd and hostile society.
Brooks published her first poem at age 13 in American Child magazine. At age 16, Brooks met the celebrated Harlem Renaissance poets LANGSTON HUGHES and JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, both of whom encouraged her to develop her writing and served as literary mentors. Brooks drew particular inspiration from Hughes. “The words and deeds of Langston Hughes were rooted in kindness, and in pride,” she wrote in her autobiography Report from Part One (1972). ” As a high school student, Brooks regularly contributed poems to the Defender, a black daily newspaper in Chicago, and developed a local reputation as a poet.