African-American Writers, Revised Edition by Philip Bader, Catherine Reef

By Philip Bader, Catherine Reef

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She worked briefly as the director of the George Washington Carver School, a manual arts school, and later at the Consumers Union in Mount Vernon, New York, with the poet Helene Johnson. After marrying Richard Crosscup, who was white, in 1940, Bennett withdrew from public and artistic life and became a homemaker and antiques dealer in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. On May 30, 1981, a little more than a year after Crosscup’s unexpected death, Gwendolyn Bennett died of congestive heart failure. Though she never published a collected volume of her poetry, Bennett was acclaimed by her fellow authors for her unself-­conscious and lively celebration of African heritage and an artistic vision that made her the equal of many of her more prolific and celebrated contemporaries.

She also fought for expanded social and political roles for women at a time when many civil rights groups overlooked such roles. ” Two posthumously published works by Bambara, edited by novelist Toni Morrison, who also edited Bambara’s early works while at Random House, have added to the legacy of her life and writing. Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays, and Conversations was released in 1996; and the novel Those Bones Are Not My Child, set against the series of child murders in Atlanta from 1979 to 1981, appeared in 1999.

Bambara published a final collection of stories, Raymond’s Run: Stories for Young Adults, in 1989. In 1993 she was diagnosed with colon cancer, but she refused to let her health stand in the way of her creative work. She teamed up once again with filmmaker Louis Massiah on the film documentary W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices, released in early 1995, which features an interview with Bambara that offers an intimate portrait of her personal history and her unique literary vision. Toni Cade Bambara succumbed to cancer on December 9, 1995, in New York.

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