From slave narratives to abolitionist tracts, from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's to the Black Arts movement of the 1960's and 1970's, African American writers have always influenced literature in the United States. These individuals have served as spokespersons against slavery and segregation in previous centuries and catalysts for social change and reflection in more recent times. Through discussions of their lives and literature, this work helps readers to better understand the experience of African Americans. Each essay identifies the writer's major genres (e.g., "Novelist and poet") and provides information about birth and death dates and places. Chronological listings of the author's works by genre follow. The text of each essay is divided into several sections: "Achievements" sums up the author's reputation and literary honors, while "Biography" offers details about background and personal life. "Analysis" provides a comprehensive discussion of the writer's literary career in one or more major genres, with subsections for various works and themes. At the end of every essay is an up to date annotated bibliography that suggests secondary sources for further study.
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