This Black History Month we are celebrating Black authors that have made their mark in the literary space. We all know that words have power, and the following 10 Black authors have made history with theirs. These poets, playwrights, novelists, and scholars, have used their words to help capture the voice of a nation and inspire change. While experiencing racism and violence, they turned their pain and fear into art, and still found room to write about joy, love, and music in the midst of unjust circumstances. We honor these authors and their impact on literature and the world.

Here are 10 Black Authors That Made History With Their Words!

1Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston is a famed anthropologist, folklorist, civil rights activist, and author known for her contribution to Harlem Renaissance. She graduated from the high school of Morgan State University in 1918 and then attended Howard University where she earned her associate’s degree in 1920. In 1925, she was offered a scholarship to Barnard College in New York City, where she was the college’s only black student. She earned her BA in anthropology in 1928 at the age of 37 and spent two years studying anthropology at Columbia University. After receiving funding from the Guggenheim Foundation for travel and studies in anthropology and ethnography, she traveled in 1936 and 1937 to Jamaica and Haiti for research. Her research inspired some of her most famous works, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Jamaica and Haiti (1938) and the renowned novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Hurston’s work was not explicitly about Black people in the context of white America but instead celebrated the culture and traditions of African Americans in the rural South.

Notable Works: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Every Tongue Got to Confess, Mules and Men, You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays