I knew from that moment of meeting Mr. James Baldwin, I wanted to become an integral part of American Literature.
Our past ancestors have influenced us as writers most. It is their Spirit which we write in. Langston Hughes, Maya Angelo, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and many others. Their writing is timeless. We are still writing about the very same conditions they wrote of during their time of living. It is extremely poetic that our writing mirrors the writing of our ancestors. This is more than destiny; it is divine.
I am reminded of my sophomore year of college. I just assumed this day would be as all other previous school days had been. I would show up for literature class, receive a lecture and go over the week's notes. That didn't happen. I showed up, and our instructor was replaced by none other than Mr. James Baldwin himself. I could not believe
my own eyes. It was him in the flesh. In all his splendid regal demeanor, he was sitting in the front of the class with his legs crossed, waiting for my classmates to fill up the lecture room that day. He wasn't one of massively tall stature, but his presence made him the size of Kevin Durant to me. We listened to him read from his own work The Fire Next Time. He spoke to each one of us. I was so tongue-tied I just could not get myself together. Mr. Baldwin was so gracious he didn't embarrass me; he only, with all longsuffering patience, entertained a star-struck starry-eyed teenager. I knew from that moment of meeting Mr. James Baldwin, I wanted to become an integral part of American Literature. I wouldn't for many years, but it was that pivotal moment in my young life that changed forever. James Baldwin is the reason that my sister and I both write. His activism was as legendary as his writing. That Spirit of service and righting what is unjust and wrong in the world is the catalyst for why we continue our craft of writing African American Literature.
Chyrel J. Jackson and Lyris D. Wallace are avid lovers, readers, and African American literature writers. They grew up in a Southern Suburb of Chicago, IL. Country Club Hills. As young girls, they read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Judy Blum novels. College was the real scholastic awakening introducing these two Literary Enthusiasts to the Literary works of their great ancestors: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez. These writers influenced Chyrel and Lyris so much. It only makes sense that they would now be writing in the Spirit of these ancestors. Giving a voice to social issues that plague our modern time.
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