Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won the prize for poetry in 1950 for her book Annie Allen. Born in 1917 in Topeka, KS, her family moved to Chicago when she was just 6 weeks old. She lived the rest of her life in Chicago. She was the Poet Laureate of Illinois from 1968 until she died, and Poet Laureate of the United States 1985-1986.
Here’s one of Brooks’ poems:
“my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell”
I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.
Gwendolyn died in the year 2000 at the age of 83. She also has a pretty cool gravestone.