September 27

September 27, 1950 – Gwendolyn Brooks Wins Pulitzer Prize

On September 27, 1950, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks became the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded the Pulitzer for her second book of poetry, Annie Allen.

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, 1994, bronze by Sara S. Miller

Her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville was published in 1945,  was very successful, and added to the foundation of her growing literary achievements. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas on June 7, 1917 to David Anderson and Keziah (Wims) Brooks.  Brooks family moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was an infant.  It was there where she received her educational training from integrated Hyde Park Hyde School; the all African American Wendell Phillips Academy High School and Englewood High School.  She graduated from Wilson Junior College (now Kennedy-King College) in 1936. Brooks excelled early in life with her gift of poetic expression.  She had published her first poem by age 13 and had over 75 published by age sixteen.  Brooks found time between writing poetry to teach at several universities around the country.  She was named Poet Laureate of Illinois and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.  Brooks and her husband Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. had two children, Henry Lowington Blakely, III and Nora Blakely.  She died in Chicago on December 3, 2000 at age 83.