When is National Black Poetry Day?
The 17th of October is National Black Poetry Day.
What is National Black Poetry Day?
“What happens to a dream deferred?”
Langston Hughes penned that famous line. Or how about this, from Alice Walker:
“If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?”
These are profound questions. Because of their essential contributions to American poetry, National Black Poetry Day honors African-American poets who have given a voice to black Americans.
National Black Poetry Day occurs on the birthday of Jupiter Hammon, the first black poet published in the United States. Born into slavery in 1711, he was an effective businessman in handling his master’s estate, but he is best known for his poetry and for the “Hammon Address,” the inaugural speech to the African Society of New York City.
We remember on National Black Poetry Day the long line of African-American poets who speak to the worth and dignity of every human. Many of these poets chose to speak out when they were told to be silent. We use this day to recognize the courage, the compassion, and the verbal finesse of these wordsmiths.
Facts about National Black Poetry Day!
- Jupiter Hammon was never emancipated, and his first published poem listed the name of his current master.
- Stanley A. Ransom, a folk musician, proposed National Black Poetry Day in 1970 to call attention to African-American literary accomplishments.
- The Librarian of Congress appointed three black poets to the office of Poet Laureate during the 20th century.
How to celebrate National Black Poetry Day:
Enjoy your favorite rap artist, and then hold a poetry slam on the front porch. Then find an anthology of black poetry, and read it either out loud with friends or by yourself.
Here’s a list of five African-American poets you should read:
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Rita Dove
- Langston Hughes
- Alice Walker
- Paul Lawrence Dunbar
What’s the hashtag for National Black Poetry Day?
Use #BlackPoetryDay on social media to share your favorite line of African-American poetry.