For almost two centuries, African American authors have enriched the literature of North Carolina and deepened our understanding of and appreciation for the human condition.
A selection of works by 34 of these writers is featured in the exhibition “Enriching Voices: African American Contributions to North Carolina Literature.” It will be on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery at the Wilson Special Collections Library through February 2, 2020. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Black North Carolinians have faced unique and daunting obstacles in seeking freedom, equality and opportunity. Their writings present stories of survival and persistence, individual achievement, the joys of family and community, and faith in a better future for all Americans.
The earliest works in “Enriching Voices” are two poems by George Moses Horton, ca. 1837. Enslaved in Chatham County, Horton taught himself to read and to compose poetry. He eventually began visiting the University of North Carolina and writing acrostics for students in Chapel Hill.
Other featured authors include the very well known, such as Maya Angelou, Pauli Murray and John Hope Franklin. North Carolina poet laureate Jaki Shelton Green, who opened the exhibition on October 10 with a poetry reading and talk, is represented by two of her poems, “Purpose” and “Praise Song.”
Alongside these familiar names are less known North Carolinians whose work has also made an impact.
All the works on view, with the exception of one item on loan from the Wake County Public Libraries, are part of the North Carolina Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library.
Enriching Voices: African American Contributions to North Carolina Literature
North Carolina Collection Gallery
October 10, 2019 – February 2, 2020
Free and open to the public
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