Margaret Walker, African American poet

Margaret Walker (1915-1998) was a highly accomplished woman. She was at college student at the young age of 15 when she begin writing poetry. In 1936 she joined the Federal Writers’ Project in Chicago, befriending Richard Wright. BA from Northwestern 1935, MA and Ph D U of Iowa 1945. Her dissertation was published as a novel, Jubilee 1966.

margaret walker portrait conte
Dr. Margaret Walker, Conte pencil, 32 x 50 cm/ 12.5 x 19.5″ on gray pastel paper

Walker was the first African American poet to receive the Yale Younger Poets Prize, penning For My People 1942. She published This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems , October Journey and Prophets for a New Day .

In 1949 she joined the faculty at Jackson State College. She returned to the University of Iowa for her doctoral studies and received a PhD in 1965. In 1968 Walker founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People at Jackson State College.

As what became the Margaret Walker Center, she organized the 1971 National Evaluative Conference on Black Studies and the 1973 Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival.

In 1979 she published On Being Female, Black, and Free, a collection of personal essays, and Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius.

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