“The Legacy of Sterling Allen Brown: Tracing the Roots of African American Literature” 

 April 15, 2023

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The Legacy of Sterling Allen Brown: Tracing the Roots of African American Literature

Sterling Allen Brown is one of the most influential literary figures in African American history. He was a professor, poet, and critic who inspired and encouraged many writers during his time. His work has greatly contributed to the development and growth of African American literature.

Introduction

Sterling Allen Brown was born in Washington, DC, in 1901. He attended Howard University and received his doctorate in English from Harvard University in 1935. As an educator, Brown taught at various notable universities such as Howard University, Virginia Union University, and Atlanta University.

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In this blog post, we will explore how Sterling Allen Brown’s work paved the way for other African American writers and how his impact on African American literature remains relevant today.

Social commentary in African American literature

Sterling Allen Brown’s poetry often made social commentary on the struggles and hardships faced by African Americans. He wrote with a sense of urgency, describing the injustices and inequalities of the time. Brown’s work was important in the evolution of social commentary in African American literature by bringing attention to the struggles of the African American community.

African American folklore in literature

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Brown’s work was strongly influenced by African American folklore. He researched and collected African American folk songs, stories, and poetry to incorporate into his own work. By incorporating the rich tradition of African American folklore into his writing, Brown played a key role in establishing its place in African American literature.

Inspiration for the Black Arts Movement

The Black Arts Movement, a cultural movement in the 1960s and 70s, was inspired in part by Brown’s work. His use of African American folklore and his social commentary influenced many of the writers and artists involved in the movement. The Black Arts Movement gave a voice to many African American writers whose work had previously been ignored, overlooked, or suppressed.

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Educational contribution to African American literature

Brown’s educational contributions were critical to the development of African American literature. He taught courses on African American literature and mentored young writers. One of his most notable contributions was editing the first comprehensive anthology of African American literature, “The Negro Caravan,” which included the works of many important African American writers.

Legacy of Sterling Allen Brown on African American literature

Sterling Allen Brown’s work and influence on African American literature are still felt today. His contributions to social commentary, African American folklore and educational efforts have influenced generations of writers and scholars. He laid the groundwork for African American literature and paved the way for other writers to tell their stories.

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FAQs

1. Who was Sterling Allen Brown?
Answer: Sterling Allen Brown was an African American professor, poet, and critic who made significant contributions to African American literature.

2. What was Sterling Allen Brown’s impact on African American literature?
Answer: Brown’s work helped establish African American literature by incorporating African American folklore, making social commentary on the struggles of the African American community and mentoring young writers.

3. What is the Black Arts Movement?
Answer: The Black Arts Movement was a cultural movement in the 1960s and 70s that was inspired by African American literature and art.

4. What is African American folklore?
Answer: African American folklore refers to the traditional stories, songs, and poetry of African Americans, often rooted in African culture.

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5. What was “The Negro Caravan?”
Answer: “The Negro Caravan” was the first comprehensive anthology of African American literature edited by Sterling Allen Brown.

6. How did Sterling Allen Brown influence other writers?
Answer: Brown’s use of African American folklore and social commentary influenced many writers and scholars and laid the groundwork for generations of African American writers.

7. Why is Sterling Allen Brown’s legacy important to African American literature?
Answer: Brown’s contributions to African American literature and education helped establish African American literature as a distinct and important genre in American literature.

Conclusion

The legacy of Sterling Allen Brown on African American literature is remarkable and undeniable. His work continues to influence generations of writers and scholars. Brown’s contributions to social commentary, African American folklore, and education have shaped African American literature into a unique genre that celebrates African American culture and history. Sterling Allen Brown’s legacy is a reminder of the power of literature to inspire change and make a difference.

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