Angelina Grimke Essay

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Angelina Grimke was a playwright and a poet who produced her finest work—personal lyrics—during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Grimke, born in 1880, came from an intellectual background. Her father was an African American lawyer, writer, and publisher who championed black rights and served as vice-president of the NAACP. Her mother was white and also a writer, but she abandoned the family in the late 1880s. Grimke attended prestigious liberal schools. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C. She spent much of her career teaching high-school English. By the time Grimke arrived in Washington, D.C., she had already published poems. Seven years after moving to Washington, she had several poems published. These poems are considered her greatest. Grimke wrote compellingly about blacks, but her preferred theme was love. In most of her poems, Grimke displays remarkable skills as an imagist. Aside from her poetry, Grimke wrote Rachel, a play sponsored by the NAACP in 1916. It is remembered as one of the first American plays written by and for blacks. In her lifetime Grimke was a prominent poet, and her work was included in many key anthologies. But in the years since her death in 1958 she has been ignored by most literary critics, though the few that do consider her writings have valued her as a substantial and surprisingly sophisticated artist from a key time in the history of black American literature. In Grimke’s poem, The Black Finger, she writes about a cypress tree extending like a black finger into the air. This poem stresses hope for the future of blacks. The, “beautiful, still finger,” is pointing upward because that is the direction that African Americans are heading. This is a simple poem with such a strong message. It gives hope for the African American movement. “I have just seen a beautiful thing, slim and still, against a gold, gold sky.” This

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