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Sat, 03.25.1939

Toni Bambara, Writer, and Activist born

Toni Bambara

*Toni Cade Bambara was born on this date in 1939. She was a Black writer, activist, and teacher.

Raised by her mother in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Queens, N.Y., Bambara (the last name she adopted in 1970) was educated at Queens College (B.A., 1959). In 1961, she went to Italy and France, studying acting and mime. She received an M.A. in 1964 from City College of the City University of New York (CUNY).

In the 1970s, she was active in the Black liberation and women’s movements. Bambara’s fiction, which was set in the rural South and the urban North, was written in Black street dialect and presents sharply drawn characters whom she portrayed with affection.

She published the short-story collections Gorilla, My Love (1972), The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977), as well as the novels The Salt Eaters (1980) and If Blessing Comes (1987). She edited and contributed to The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970) and Tales and Stories for Black Folks (1971). She also collaborated on several television documentaries.  She was a frequent lecturer and teacher at universities and a political activist who worked to raise Black consciousness and pride.

Toni Bambara, who wrote about the concerns of the African American community, died on December 9, 1995, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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