Posted in Black History

Gwendolyn Brooks

Brooks is considered to be one of the most revered poets of the 20th century. She was the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1950, for Annie Allen), and she served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, becoming the first Black woman to hold that position.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000) was an American poet, educator, and civil rights activist based in Chicago. Her first collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), was greeted with critical acclaim and a Guggenheim fellowship. Annie Allen (1949) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950, making her the first Black person to ever claim that honor. Her only novel, Maud Martha, was published in 1953. In The Mecca (1968) was nominated for the National Book Award, the same year she was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois, a position she held until her death in 2000.

Ms. Brooks was not only an active participant in the Black arts movement of the 60s and 70s she was also a role model. Never more so than when she left a major international House in the late 1960s to join Broadside Press, an up-and-coming Black publishing company. In 1976, she became the first Black woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and in 1985, the first to become Library of Congress Consultant in Poetry.

She also published two volumes of autobiography, books for children, and won a National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Throughout her life, she taught young writers and held numerous academic posts – she was awarded over seventy honorary degrees – and became a professor of English at Chicago State University in 1990 until her death in 2000.

In 1939, Brooks married Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. (author of “Windy Place”), whom she met after joining Chicago’s NAACP Youth Council. They had two children: Nora Brooks Blakely, authorpreneur and president of Brooks Permissions in Chicago, and Henry Blakely III, a web designer & digital artist. 

Gwendolyn Brooks is known for her poems about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. The book follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. The biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950.

A bold artist who, from a very young age, dared to dream. She was also the poet laureate of the State of Illinois, and many of her works reflected the political and social landscape of the 1960s, including the civil rights movement and the economic climate.

For more info about Gwendolyn Brooks visit us at Brooks Permissions —


Versatile Christian Blogger, wife of Minister Woods, mother of 3, grandmother of 3.