On May 1st, 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first black person to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Gwendolyn received a Pulitzer for her book entitled Annie Allen. Gwendolyn Brooks was born on June 7th, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. She was the first born child of David and Keziah Brooks. Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Chicago, Illinois. It was said that this move was a result of the Great Migration.
Gwendolyn Brooks was known for her strong writing and literary skills since she was a young girl. At the age of 13, her first poem was published in a children’s magazine. By the age of sixteen Gwendolyn had at least 75 pieces of her poetry published. She went on to continue pressing on in the field of literary art, perfecting her craft. . In her early years Gwendolyn supported herself by working as a secretary while she perfected her writing abilities. In 1943 she was recognized by the Midwestern Writers Conference, where she received an award for her work. Her first official book of poetry entitled “A Street in Bronzeville” was published in 1945. Her first book was an instant success and she won a fellowship along with other honors for her work. Her work also appeared in the Chicago Defender, a prominent African American newspaper.
Brooks went on to take her literary skills to teach at several prominent universities in the Chicago Area and throughout the Midwest. The schools she taught at included Columbia University and North Eastern Illinois University. Even though Brooks began a prominent teaching career, she continued to write. In her lifetime she composed over twenty poetry books. She also continued to win high literary awards for her works such as The National Book Award, United States Poet Laureate, and American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Gwendolyn passed away at the age of 83 on December 3rd, 2000 from cancer in her Chicago home.