This National Poetry Month, we recognize those who use their words and voices to uplift and empower, challenge the status quo, and spark movements that transform the world.
Our campaign highlights African Americans and their historical contributions to poetry.
African American poets have inspired us with melodic sonnets and thoughtful odes as well as reflective, epic works that give a voice to the voiceless and evoke passion and purpose.
We honor the men and women spanning generations who’ve graced us with their gifts and talents and celebrate their collective greatness.
Gwendolyn Brooks – Became the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Hers was a Pulitzer in poetry, specifically for a volume entitled “Annie Allen” which chronicled the life of an ordinary black girl growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s famous South Side.
Paul Laurence Dunbar – One of the first influential Black poets in American literature. Born into slavery before the American Civil War, he attended Howard University as a free man. Dunbar’s literary work is regarded as an impressive representation of Black life in turn-of-the-century America.
Langston Hughes – One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. His colorful, insightful works confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself.
Amanda Gorman – A poet and activist, Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. In 2021, she delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Ursula Rucker – A spoken word recording artist known for her diverse repertoire and for using techniques that catch her listeners’ attention. Her work with hip hop band The Roots is often mentioned in popular culture.
Mahogany Browne – Director of Bowery Poetry Club and artistic director of Urban Word NYC, Browne is a writer, organizer, educator, and NAACP Image Awards nominee for Outstanding Poetry.
We kick things off on our FGB.life social platforms with “A Celebration of Sonia Sanchez,” a video capturing a candid 30-minute conversation with three contemporary poets and the legendary Sonia Sanchez. They discuss their experiences as poets in America and what inspires them as artists. The video closes with the poets paying homage to Sanchez for her contribution to the craft.