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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities

Gwendolyn Brooks - Selected Archive Items

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[3010] Austin Hansen, Woman and Baby Evicted from Their Harlem Apartment, 1950s (c. 1950s),
courtesy of Joyce Hansen and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
This photo's echoes of the traditional iconography of the Madonna and Child comment ironically on life in inner-city New York. Gwendolyn Brooks's work addresses the struggles of raising children in poverty.

[3013] Austin Hansen, The Apollo Theater in Harlem (c. 1940s),
courtesy of Joyce Hansen and the Schomburg Center. Printed on back of photo: "Exterior view of the Apollo Theatre, with marquee advertising appearances by Jimmie Lunceford and his band and other acts, 1940s."
Beginning in the 1930s, the Apollo Theater, in the heart of Harlem, played a crucial role in the development of black music. Famous performers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan got their first break at the Apollo's Amateur Night. The experience of watching such performers inspired Langston Hughes's "The Weary Blues" and Gwendolyn Brooks's "Queen of the Blues."

[7138] Anonymous, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) Leads the Black Arts Parade Down 125th Toward the Black Arts Theater Repertory/School on 130th Street, New York City (1965),
courtesy of The Liberator.

Inspired by civil rights activism and black nationalism, Baraka (Jones) and other African American artists opened the Black Arts Theater in Harlem in 1965.

[7851] Jack Delano, Chicago, Illinois. A Poetry Study Circle at the South Side Community Art Center (1944),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USW3-000701-D].
Gwendolyn Brooks's engagement with poetry began as early in her life as her strong association with Chicago's black community. In her early work, Brooks followed in the modernist tradition of Pound and Eliot and in the Harlem Renaissance tradition of poets such as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen. Following the 1967 Second Black Writers Conference, Brooks began writing specifically for black audiences under the auspices of African American publishers.

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