This Day in Black History: Sept. 27, 1950

Gwendolyn Brooks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on Sept. 27, 1950.

Born in 1917 in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks, author of more than 20 books of poetry, published her first poem in a children's magazine at age 13. She grew up in Chicago, and she attended four different high schools, including the city's elite all-white high school as well as an all-Black institution, ultimately graduating from the integrated Englewood High School.
Her experience in these different settings played a significant role in her work, which frequently offered a commentary on race and class. Likely the envy of poets today, Brooks received critical acclaim for her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, published in 1945. She also was named one of Mademoiselle magazine's "Ten Young Women of the Year," won a Guggenheim Fellowship and became an American Academy of Arts and Letters fellow.
Five years later, on Sept. 27, 1950, she received the most coveted award of all — the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry — for her second volume, Annie Allen. She was the first African-American and one of few women to receive the honor.

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(Photo: PHIL VELASQUEZ/Landov)

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