|Margaret Walker (b. July 7, 1915 – d. November 30, 1998).|
Margaret Walker was a poet and writer of African descent born in Birmingham, Alabama. The eldest of five children, her father was Sigismund C. Walker, a Methodist minister, linguist, and professor. Her mother was Marion Dozier Walker, a musicologist, and professor. In 1925, Walker’s family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. She underwent her early education in New Orleans, including two years of college at New Orleans University (now Dillard University). Encouraged by Langston Hughes, Walker moved to Chicago and attend Northwestern University. In 1934, she would earn her B.A. in English, with a focus on Romantic poets, at the age of 19 years.
The home of Walker’s first published poem was The Crisis magazine, published by W. E. B. Du Bois. By 1935, she was active in the South Side Writers’ Group of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Her award-winning poem For My People was first published in 1937. Walker soon became part of the thriving Black Chicago Renaissance, a cultural arts movement among African Americans that began in the 1930s. Her most well-known work is her classic novel Jubilee, published in 1966.
For Walker, Chicago was a cultural boom city. The Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to Chicago’s neighborhoods brought the hope of a people to the city. While not as well known as its sister renaissance in Harlem, the movement included such famous African American writers as Arna Bontemps, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Margaret Walker and Richard Wright. Musicians active during the Black Chicago Renaissance were such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Thomas A. Dorsey and Earl Hines. Live Jazz and Blues clubs, such as the Palm Tavern, were many in Chicago’s predominantly African-American Bronzeville community.
For My People