Since Flora Nwapa, the forerunner of African women writers made her debut in 1966, the story of black women in literature has never been the same. Nwapa, who died in 1993, was the first African woman to publish a book in English language. A few other noteworthy black female writers who shared their passion through thier unique stories include Toni Morrison, Buchi Emecheta, Nadine Gordima, Mariama Ba, Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, Seffi Atta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Katori Hall. They have stayed true to themselves.
Toni Morrison (1931–2019) once said “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Maya Angelou, legend and matriarch, through whom scores of women writers were inspired, published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry and is credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning half a century. Maya Angelou is the first black woman to appear on US coin.
What makes the history of women’s writing so interesting is that, in many ways, it is a new area of study. The tradition of women writing has been much ignored due to the steriotypes around women, especially in male-dominated societies.
The onus of women’s literature, therefore, is to categorize and create an area of study for a group of people who have been marginalized by history and to explore through their writings, their lives and how societies influenced their thoughts.
Amanda Gorman and Tomi Adeyemi are two renowned black female writers who have made remarkable progress at such young age:
Amanda Gorman Is an American poet and activist born in Los Angeles, California, in March 7, 1998. Gorman attended a private school, New Roads, in Santa Monica, for grades K–12. She received a Milken Family Foundation college scholarship as a senior and studied Sociology at Harvard College, graduating cum laude in 2020 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Gorman spent a semester studying in Madrid, Spain, supported by IES Abroad In 2019.
Amanda Gorman is hypersensitive to sound and has an auditory processing disorder. Despite having a speech impediment during childhood, Gorman has described her young self as a “weird child” who enjoyed reading and writing and was encouraged by her mother. She participated in speech therapy during her childhood.
Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018 that she always saw her speech as a strength because due to experiencing obstacles in terms of her auditory and vocal skills, she realized she became really good at reading and writing at a young age when she was reciting the Marianne Deborah Williamson quote ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure’ to her mom.
Shortly after her Presidential inauguration poem generated international acclaim, she obtained a professional management contract and two of her books achieved best-seller status. In February 2021, with a profile written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gorman was highlighted in Time magazine’s 100 Next list under the category of “Phenoms”. That same month, Gorman became the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl, when she delivered her poem “Chorus of the Captains” at Super Bowl LV.
Gorman’s art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She has said that after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, she was inspired to become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013. She was also chosen as the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. In 2014 it was reported that Gorman was editing the first draft of a novel the 16‑year‑old had been writing over the last two years after which she went on to publish the poetry book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017 while she was at Harvard. She was chosen from five finalists. Same year, Gorman won a $10,000 grant from media company OZY in the annual OZY Genius Awards through which 10 college students are given “the opportunity to pursue their outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations”.
She intends to run for president in 2036, and has quite often repeated this hope. On being selected as one of Glamour magazine’s 2018 “College Women of the Year”, she expressed her wish to turn realities in actions by continuing to inspire people even in politics.. After reading her poem The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Gorman’s 2036 aspiration.
In 2019, Gorman performed a pro-choice poem while she was a student at Harvard, in support of the landmark case Roe v. Wade and against proposed restrictions. She was chosen as one of The Root magazine’s “Young Futurists”, an annual list of “the 25 best and brightest young African-Americans who excel in the fields of social justice and activism, arts and culture, enterprise and corporate innovation, science and technology, and green innovation”.
She also had the opportunity to virtually meet Oprah Winfrey and issued a virtual commencement speech to those who could not attend commencements due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. In 2020, Gorman presented Earthrise, a poem focused on the climate change.
Gorman made the cover of Time magazine’s February 2021 issue. In March 2021, Gorman said she was racially profiled by a security guard near her home, and tweeted afterwards, “He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.” She later tweeted, “In a sense, he was right. I Am a Threat: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be. A threat and proud.”
Gorman, who was photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the cover-story of the May edition of Vogue – the first poet ever to have been thus featured by the magazine – has said she has turned down $17 million in offers for endorsements that did not “speak to” her. In September 2021, it was announced that Gorman would become the first Estée Lauder “Global Changemaker”, as a representative of the brand in ad campaigns and speaking events, in addition to work with the company’s grantmaking program to promote literacy for girls and women. On September 13, 2021, she co-hosted the Met Gala, alongside actor Timothée Chalamet, singer Billie Eilish, and tennis player Naomi Osaka.
Gorman’s advice for young girls, and Black girls in particular, who earn their way into the spotlight:
My question is “do they have any advice for me?” I’m new to this, so I’m still learning. I would say anyone who finds themselves suddenly visible and suddenly famous, think about the big picture. Especially for girls of colour, we’re treated as lightning or gold in the pan—we’re not treated as things that are going to last. You really have to crown yourself with the belief that what I’m about and what I’m here for is way beyond this moment. I’m learning that I am not lightning that strikes once. I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again soon. Written as a children’s anthem, Gorman’s book reminds the newest generation that they have the power to shape the word with their actions and voices.
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet, at age twenty-two, to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb is now available to cherish and gift in this special edition. The poem was inspired by the recent happenings in the black race, which includes the murder of George Floyd in 2020, and the brutalities that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic at large.
By the time Gorman uttered her last, satisfying line, she was a celebrity, lauded throughout the world for meeting the moment. In the following weeks she became the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl (her poem, “Chorus of the Captains,” honours an educator, a nurse, and a veteran). She also signed a modeling contract and published a special edition of her inaugural poem. Later in 2021 Gorman cohosted the Met Gala, the annual benefit for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with actor Timothée Chalamet, singer Billie Eilish, and tennis player Naomi Osaka. In addition, she debuted a children’s book, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, and published a collection of poetry, Call Us What We Carry (formerly titled The Hill We Climb, and Other Poems).
Poet Amanda Gorman has released a new work, just in time for the year’s end. And like her most famous poem, The Hill We Climb, her latest aims to uplift its listeners during a challenging time. She said she wrote the poem to “celebrate the new year and honor the hurt & the humanity of the last one.”
Earlier in December 2021, Gorman – who became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017 – published the poetry collection Call Us What We Carry, which has appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list for two weeks. And after her star turn at the inauguration in January, she wrote and performed a poem for the Super Bowl the following month, titled Chorus of the Captains.
Her free verse poem The Hills We Climb acknowledges that the nation is evolving into a delightful and hopeful new era, how we must come together to heal the nation’s wounds, inculcate the habit of being diverse and resilient, preserve policies and culture, and prevail over negativities.
For her verified Instagram handle @amandascgorman, she has 3.8 million followers, and recently started a fundraiser for international rescue committee, in which Instagram has already pledged $50,000. Currently, $6, 204, 554.80 has been raised of $8, 305, 613.35
Tomi Adeyemi (born August 1, 1983) is a Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach. Tomi Adeyemi lives in San Diego, California. She is of Yoruba heritage. She is the sister of Tobi Adeyemi, a California-based rapper popularly known as Tobi Lou. When Tomi is not writing a novel or watching Seventeen and BTS music videos, she is coaching on creative writing on her website, through digital workshops, or via her online masterclass – The Writer’s Roadmap.
Her parents moved to the United States in the 1990s. She qualified for Hinsdale Central High School Foundation’s scholarship program in 2008 and got admitted to the school. She (Tomi) also received the Rani Sharma scholarship during her final year in high school. After which she gained admission from Harvard University and graduated from the prestigious university with a degree in English Literature. Tomi later moved to Salvador, Brazil, where she studied West African mythology and culture.
She is known for her best selling novel Children of Blood and Bone, the first in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, which won the 2018 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, the 2019 Waterstones Book Prize, a movie deal with Fox 2000, and, most recently, a No. 1 spot on New York Times Bestseller List, and the 2019 Hugo Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. On 12 January 2022, Paramount Pictures landed thetelevision rights to produce the best selling book after a very rigorous bidding which included movie giants like Netflix, Universal Pictures and Amazon.
Adeyemi’s debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone, was released in March 2018, and debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Young Adult Hardcover Bestseller List. It is a young-adult (YA) fantasy novel, featuring protagonist Zélie Adebola, who fights a monarchy to return magic to her people. Adeyemi has said she wanted to write a fantasy novel set in West Africa so that “a little Black girl [could] pick up my book one day and see herself as the star…I want her to know that she’s beautiful and she matters and she can have a crazy, magical adventure even if an ignorant part of the world tells her she can never be Hermione Granger.”
The story is perfectly told, especially as it alludes to popular Yoruba deities like Oya, Yemoja, Sango, and is set in many known places in Nigeria like Lagos and Ilorin.
She was named among Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019. In 2020, she was named among TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2020 in the “Pioneers” category.
She has an impressive and appealing net worth. Tomi is worth $20 million and achieved the feat of selling her New York Best Seller to Summit Entertainment before she graduated from college. Her website was mentioned as one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest. Good morning America (GMA) book club featured Tomi in December 2019 concerning the bestseller novel.
Tthese two wonderful black sisters have contributed immensely to the growing community of Africa, especially Nigeria. For example: Adeyemi believes talking to teenagers about pursuing their dreams is extremely important, though she believes so because they are the next generation who will soon be stepping up to become leaders.
In 2016, Gorman founded a nonprofit called One Pen One Page. Its mission is to empower youth to use their voices and help eliminate inequality through education. She was inspired to advocate for this cause by the work of her mother, teaching English at an inner-city school.
Sources: The Nigerian Tribune, wiki.ng, wordsmith-change maker, Wikipedia, Time magazine, Britannica.