Famous African American Authors The World Really Loves

Many people around the world agree with the saying ‘A Pen Is Mightier Than A Sword’. Authors have undoubtedly been quite influential in changing the world to a great extent. The works of several famous works have changed governance, sparked off revolutions and led to the evolution of society in general. The contribution of African American authors in the evolution of our society has often gone unnoticed. Over the past few decades, several African American authors have impressed literature lovers with their works and some of their books even went on to become bestsellers. Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Alice Walker and Ralph Ellison are a few eminent African American authors who are famous worldwide. Toni Morrison has penned several critically acclaimed novels like ‘The Bluest Eye’, ‘Sula’ and ‘Solomon’. She has been felicitated with several laurels such as the prestigious ‘Nobel Prize in Literature’, ‘Pulitzer Prize’ and ‘American Book Award’ for her immense contribution towards literature. Similarly, Alice Walker is another author who has admirers all over the world. She is best known for her acclaimed novel ‘The Color Purple’, which fetched Walker the ‘National Book Award’ as well as the ‘Pulitzer Prize For Fiction’. Alice Walker has also often raised her voice against unjust practices in the society. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ written by Zora Neale Hurston has attained the status of a cult classic. We have compiled a list which includes the names of several eminent authors of African American descent.
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 1 
Tupac Shakur
( 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone)
Tupac Shakur
300
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: June 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: September 13, 1996

Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.

 2 
W. E. B. Du Bois
(Civil Rights Activists)
W. E. B. Du Bois
39
Birthdate: February 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 27, 1963

W. E. B. Du Bois was an American civil rights activist, sociologist, and Pan-Africanist. Du Bois played an instrumental role in fighting for full civil rights for people of color around the world. A co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Du Bois also played an important role as the leader of the Niagara Movement.

 3 
Gladys Knight
(Singer-Songwriter)
Gladys Knight
25
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Height: 5'3" (160 cm)
 4 
Booker T. Washington
(American Educator Who was the Dominant Leader of the African-American Community Between 1890 and 1915)
Booker T. Washington
34
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: April 5, 1856
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westlake Corner, Virginia, United States
Died: November 14, 1915
Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but rose to be an advisor to many U.S. presidents and also became the director of the Tuskegee Institute. His Atlanta Compromise, initially accepted and later rejected by black leaders, urged the blacks to work for their freedom through education and not revolt.
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 5 
Ben Carson
(U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (2017 – 2021))
Ben Carson
100
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is credited with many pioneering neurosurgical procedures. He became a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He later contested in the 2016 presidential primaries, has authored numerous books, was a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and earned 60 honorary doctorates.

 6 
Toni Morrison
(Novelist)
Toni Morrison
46
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lorain, Ohio
Died: August 5, 2019
Author, editor, and Princeton professor Toni Morrison is best remembered for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, part of a trilogy. Some of her other notable works include The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon. She received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. She also wrote several children’s books and plays.
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 7 
Ida B. Wells
(Women's Rights Activist and Civil Rights Leader)
Ida B. Wells
21
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: July 16, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 25, 1931
Civil rights and women's rights activist Ida B. Wells is remembered for speaking up against the lynching of Blacks in the U.S. She was born a slave and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. She later co-founded the NAACP. She also co-owned and wrote for Memphis Free Speech and Headlight.
 8 
Angela Davis
(Political Activist)
Angela Davis
54
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: January 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Birmingham

Activist, philosopher, academic and author, Angela Davis is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). She has worked in the areas of feminism, class, race and the US prison system. She has also received criticism for supporting the erstwhile Soviet Union and has been accused of supporting political violence.

 9 
Zora Neale Hurston
(Folklorist, Anthropologist)
Zora Neale Hurston
21
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 10 
Ta-Nehisi Coates
(Author and Journalist Known for His Non-Fiction Books: ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ and ‘Between the World and Me’)
Ta-Nehisi Coates
11
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: September 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.

Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates gained international prominence while serving as the national correspondent at The Atlantic. His writings on socio-political issues related to African Americans and white supremacy garnered him much appreciation. He is a recipient of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice. He also writes fiction and comics.

 11 
Olaudah Equiano
(Anti Slavery Activist)
Olaudah Equiano
12
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: 1745 AD
Birthplace: Igboland
Died: March 31, 1797

Olaudah Equiano was a writer and abolitionist who was part of the abolitionist group, Sons of Africa, composed of Africans living in Britain in the 18th century. Enslaved as a child and sold to different “masters,” he eventually purchased his freedom and became one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s.  

 12 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)
Lorraine Hansberry
8
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 12, 1965

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 13 
Eldridge Cleaver
(American Writer and Political Activist who Became an Early Leader of the Black Panther Party)
Eldridge Cleaver
17
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: August 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wabbaseka, Arkansas
Died: May 1, 1998
 14 
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
(Literary Critic and Scholar Who Became Popular for His Pioneering Theories of African and African-American Literature)
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
7
Birthdate: September 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keyser, West Virginia, United States

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, professor, filmmaker, and public intellectual. He is currently serving as the director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Over the years Gates has been honored with several prestigious awards including the National Humanities Medal. In 1997, he was named in Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list.

 15 
Amiri Baraka
(Writer)
Amiri Baraka
5
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: October 7, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark
Died: January 9, 2014
 16 
Gwendolyn Brooks
7
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: June 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas
Died: December 3, 2000
 17 
Dwayne McDuffie
(Known for Producing and Writing the Animated Series: 'Static Shock', 'Damage Control', 'Justice League Unlimited')
Dwayne McDuffie
3
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 20, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: February 21, 2011

Dwayne Glenn McDuffie was an American writer best remembered for writing and producing popular animated series like Ben 10, Justice League Unlimited, and Static Shock. He is credited with co-founding Milestone Media, which is renowned for creating Milestone Comics. Over the course of his illustrious career, Dwayne Glenn McDuffie won many prestigious awards like the Humanitas Prize and Inkpot Award.

 18 
Roxane Gay
(Writer Known for Her 2014 Essay Collection 'Bad Feminist')
Roxane Gay
12
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: October 15, 1974
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Roxane Gay is an American writer, editor, professor, and social commentator. She is credited with founding an Illinois-based small press called Tiny Hardcore Press as well as the now-defunct Gay Magazine, which was founded in association with Medium. Roxane Gay is the recipient of a couple of Lambda Literary Awards and an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

 19 
Claude McKay
(Writer)
Claude McKay
2
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: September 15, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Clarendon Parish
Died: May 22, 1948

Claude McKay was a poet who played an influential role in the Harlem Renaissance. Remembered for his work If We Must Die, a poem written in response to mob attacks on African-American communities by white Americans, McKay was named the national poet of Jamaica in 1977. For his contribution to literature, he was posthumously honored with the Order of Jamaica.

 20 
Angie Thomas
(Novelist)
Angie Thomas
4
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: March 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
 21 
Mumia Abu-Jamal
(Journalist, Activist)
Mumia Abu-Jamal
6
Birthdate: April 24, 1954
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia
 22 
Oscar Micheaux
4
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: January 2, 1884
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Metropolis, Illinois, United States
Died: March 25, 1951
 23 
Walter Dean Myers
11
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: August 12, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Martinsburg
Died: July 1, 2014
 24 
Anna Julia Cooper
(One of the Most Important African-American Scholars in US History)
Anna Julia Cooper
7
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: August 10, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Died: February 27, 1964

Anna Julia Cooper was an American author, sociologist, educator, Black liberation activist, and speaker. She was one of the most important African-American scholars in US history. In 1924, Anna Julia Cooper earned her PhD from the University of Paris, becoming only the fourth African-American woman to receive a doctoral degree.

 25 
Michelle Alexander
(Lawyer)
Michelle Alexander
5
Listed In: Lawyers & Judges
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
 26 
Bebe Moore Campbell
(Author)
Bebe Moore Campbell
2
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006
 27 
Henry Van Dyke
4
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: November 10, 1852
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: April 10, 1933
 28 
Rita Dove
(Poet, Writer)
Rita Dove
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: August 28, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Akron
 29 
Uzodinma Iweala
(Nigerian-American Author and Doctor Known for Authoring the Novel ‘Beasts of No Nation’)
Uzodinma Iweala
3
Listed In: Physicians
Birthdate: November 5, 1982
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Nigerian-American author and doctor Uzodinma Iweala is best-known for authoring the novels Beasts of No Nation and Speak No Evil. While the first, theme of child soldiers of which draws on his Harvard thesis, won the 2005 Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was adapted as an award-winning 2015 movie; the second explores life of a gay Nigerian-American boy.

 30 
Robert Hayden
(Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1976 to 1978, a role today known as US Poet Laureate.)
Robert Hayden
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: August 4, 1913
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: February 25, 1980
 31 
Chester Himes
(Writer)
Chester Himes
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: July 29, 1909
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jefferson City, Missouri,United States
Died: November 12, 1984
 32 
E. Lynn Harris
(Author)
E. Lynn Harris
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: June 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, United States
Died: July 23, 2009
 33 
Edna Lewis
(Chef)
Edna Lewis
0
Listed In: Food Experts
Birthdate: April 13, 1916
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Freetown, Virginia, United States
Died: February 13, 2006
 34 
Stanley Crouch
(Musician, Novelist, Writer, Music critic, Journalist)
Stanley Crouch
10
Listed In:
Birthdate: December 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles
 35 
Gloria Naylor
(Novelist)
Gloria Naylor
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: January 25, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: September 28, 2016
 36 
Alice Dunbar Nelson
(Poet)
Alice Dunbar Nelson
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: July 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: September 18, 1935
 37 
Edward P. Jones
(Novelist)
Edward P. Jones
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
 38 
Sarah Louise Delany
(Educator)
Sarah Louise Delany
2
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: September 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lynch Station, Virginia, United States
Died: January 25, 1999
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 39 
Bob Herbert
(Journalist)
Bob Herbert
0
Birthdate: March 7, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
 40 
Jessie Redmon Fauset
(Editor)
Jessie Redmon Fauset
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden County, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 30, 1961
 41 
Sofia Samatar
(Poet)
Sofia Samatar
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 24, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Indiana, United States
 42 
Claude Brown
(Author)
Claude Brown
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 23, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: February 2, 2002
 43 
Timothy Thomas Fortune
(Orator)
Timothy Thomas Fortune
1
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 3, 1856
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Marianna, Florida, United States
Died: June 2, 1928
 44 
Pauline Hopkins
(Novelist)
Pauline Hopkins
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 1859 AD
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, United States
Died: August 13, 1930
 45 
George Moses Horton
(Poet)
George Moses Horton
3
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: 1798 AD
Birthplace: Northampton, North Carolina
Died: 1884 AD
 46 
Rudolph Fisher
(Physician)
Rudolph Fisher
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: May 9, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: December 26, 1934
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 47 
William Raspberry
(Journalist)
William Raspberry
0
Birthdate: October 12, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Okolona, Mississippi
Died: July 17, 2012
 48 
Houston A. Baker, Jr.
(Scholar)
Houston A. Baker, Jr.
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: March 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States
 49 
Lorenzo Thomas
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: August 31, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Panama
Died: July 4, 2005
 50 
Carlos Baker
(Writer)
Carlos Baker
0
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: May 5, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Biddeford, Maine, United States
Died: April 18, 1987