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Eloise Greenfield, a Black writer, was born on this date in 1929.
She was born in Paemele, N.C., the daughter of Weston W. Little and Lessie Jones Little. She grew up in Langston Terrace, in Washington, D.C. This was a public housing development for Blacks which she recalls fondly. The library was two minutes from her back door so she spent a lot of time there. She and the other children in the housing project played games, danced in fire hydrant showers, and jumped rope. Greenfield was educated at Miner Teachers College in Washington, the principal school for training Black teachers in the city, from 1946 to 1949. Her first job was as a clerk typist with the U.S. Patent Office.
She was bored with her job, one reason that led her to begin to write. She doesn't really remember why she decided to sit down one day and write a rhyme but she began to write. One reason that she was inspired to write is that there were far too few books that told the truth about African American people. She has been writing children's books for almost 40 years.
She married Robert Greenfield in 1950 and they have two children. In the late 1960s Greenfield began to work with the District of Columbia Black Writers’ Workshop. She was director of adult fiction (1971-73), and director of children’s literature 1973-74). She first wrote humorous rhymes, then songs. She then tried three short stories that were rejected but she kept writing until she was published.
Greenfield’s first book, "Bubbles," was published in 1972. She writes poetry, picture books, and biographies. She has won many awards for her books, which include: "Rosa Parks," (1973), "She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl," (1974), "Honey, I Love," (1978), "Grandpa's Face," (1988), "Night on Neighborhood St.," (1996), "Water, Water," (1999), "MJ and Me," (1999), "Grandma's Joy," (1999) and others.
Greenfield has stated that her family and her efforts to fight racism are the two most important concerns in her life. In a very real way she has adopted all Black children as her family by addressing racism through writing books especially for them. Greenfield is possibly the foremost African American children’s poet today.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York