8 Early African-American Authors Who Shaped History & Rectified A Nation

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Photo by AngelicaRenee337, Flickr

Photo by AngelicaRenee337, Flickr

Writers of early African-American literature produced creative works that detailed their struggles and experiences as a people. Using written works to help define themselves and their culture, it’s evident that they carry the burden of portraying the tribulations of a race while attempting to establish themselves as authors and enlighteners at the same time.

Although National Black History Month has passed reading the literature that early Black writers published is one way to connect with history and learn about how their stories have changed perceptions and transformed lives.

Featured below are eight African-American writers that you probably haven’t read, but should consider peeping out. Book torrent files are included.

African-American authors and their book torrents in the public domain

William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, A Fugitive Slave

An activist and abolitionist, Brown was a prolific writer, as well as a lecturer, playwright and historian. His novel Clotel is thought to be the first novel written by an African-American. He was among the first writers inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

Frances Harper, Iola Leroy

Harper had a long history of publishing novels and poems that have been widely praised and highly regarded. Her first novel, Iola Leroy, and short story, Two Offers, are her

most well-known. Beyond writing, Harper held several top positions in several national progressive organizations, including superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women.

Phillis Wheat

ley, The Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Born in 1753, Wheatley lived as a slave in New England and began writing at the age of 13. She is the first African-American to be published and her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral has received international acclaim.

Lucy Parsons, A Word To Tramps

Best known for h

er radical socialism and anarchist lectures, Parsons was an active American labor organizer and writer. Her interracial marriage to Albert Parsons, editor of The Alarm and later accused member of the infamous Haymarket Riot, also created a stir. She wrote for Les Temps

Noveaux, a French anarchist journal, and articles for The Alarm.

Langston Hug

hes, The Negro Speaks Of Rivers (audio)

Largely associated with the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1920s, Hughes penned several novels, short stories and poems about the Black experience in the United States. Published in 1921, his book The Crisis contains what’s become known as his signature poem, ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws In All Its Phases

An extreme activist in the women’s rights and suffrage movements, Wells-Barnett was an early investigative journalist that researched and documented lynchings and launched an anti-lynching campaign. Her findings were published in two pamphlets entitled ‘Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases’ and ‘Red Recor

d’. Wells-Barnett has been cited as a sophisticated and analytical writer gifted with the ability to debate and persuade.

Frederick Douglass, The Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass

After escaping from slavery Douglass gained notoriety for his leadership as an abolitionist and his oratory skills. He is most remembered for his three autobiographies that chronicle his enslavement, escape and transformation in the abolitionist movement. For sixteen years he published an anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, Oak And Ivy

Dunbar was an African-American poet and novelist from Dayton, Ohio. He attended high school with Wilbur and Orville Wright, which he remained lifelong friends and edited their first weekly newspaper, The Tattler. Maya Angelou has referred to Dunbar as her writing ambition and the New York Times called him a “true singer of the people – white or black.”

The African-American renaissance of the late 20th century can be attributed to many of these early writers and their stories. Have you read any of the above authors? What did you learn from their stories? Share with us in the comments below.


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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.