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Black History Month: Authors

Provides information about Black History Month and some notable African Americans from throughout history.

Langston Hughes

Photograph of Langston Hughes with his arm around a statue, smiling and looking off to the right

This photograph of Langston Hughes was taken in 1943 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Langston Hughes

This photograph of Langston Hughes was taken in 1936 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Langston Hughes smiling and looking off to the left

This photograph of Langston Hughes was taken in 1942 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Why are they important?

Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of time when the arts and culture of African Americans were celebrated in Harlem, New York. Hughes was one of the first writers of jazz poetry (hear an example of one of his poems below) but also wrote plays, short stories, and a weekly column in a newspaper.

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Listen to Langston Hughes read his poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

Read the full text of this poem and others written by Langston Hughes.

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Langston Hughes:

  • Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
    List of audio and video recordings of Langston Hughes's poetry and songs.
  • Biography
    Presents an overview of Langston Hughes's life and accomplishments and includes quick facts, famous quotes, photos, and videos.
  • America's Library
    A series of stories about Langston Hughes written by the Library of Congress for young audiences.

Zora Neale Hurston

Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston looking to the left

This photograph of Zora Neale Hurston was taken in 1938 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston smiling and banging on a drum

This photograph of Zora Neale Hurston was taken in 1937 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston smiling

This photograph of Zora Neale Hurston was taken sometime between 1935 and 1943 and is maintained by the Library of Congress.

Why are they important?

Zora Neale Hurston was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance (a period of time when African American arts and culture were celebrated in Harlem, New York) and wrote many novels, plays, short stories, and essays. Her most well-known novel is Their Eyes Were Watching God, but her works did not gain much attention until long after her death. Hurston also participated in anthropological research (the study of people and their culture), with a particular interest in the African American experience.

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Listen to Zora Neale Hurston perform a working song

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Zora Neale Hurston:

  • Library of Congress
    Presents a timeline of Zora Neale Hurston's life. The timeline is attached to a collection of plays written by Zora Neale Hurston that are available to read online.
  • Biography
    Presents an overview of Zora Neale Hurston's life and accomplishments and includes quick facts and videos.
  • Britannica Kids
    A short biography of Zora Neale Hurston written for students in grades 6-8.

Maya Angelou

Photograph of Maya Angelou smiling

This photograph of Maya Angelou was taken at an unknown time.

Photograph of Barack Obama putting the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Maya Angelou's neck as she sits in her wheelchair

This photograph shows Maya Angelou receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in February 2011.

Photograph of Maya Angelou standing in front of a podium in front of a large crowd

This photograph shows Maya Angelou reciting one of her poems during the inauguration ceremony for President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Why are they important?

Maya Angelou is a celebrated author of many books, poems, plays, movies, and essays. Her most well-known work is her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Her works shine a light on black culture and her experiences with racism as a black woman. Angelou was also a civil rights activist and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.

Books from our Collection

Click on the title of each book to be taken to our catalog where you can place a hold with your library card.

Watch Maya Angelou talk about being kind

Additional Resources

Check out the following websites for more information about Maya Angelou:

  • EdSiteMent
    Provides links to Maya Angelous's poems and recordings of her reading them.
  • Biography
    Provides an overview of Maya Angelou's life and accomplishments and includes quick facts, famous quotes, and videos.
  • Britannica Kids
    Biographical information about Maya Angelou written for various audiences.