Throughout history, diverse voices have been marginalized. From society to media to literature, Black people have struggled to share their stories. As Black experiences finally come to the forefront of contemporary discourse, educators and librarians are looking for more resources to help learners think about topics like critical race theory, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the evolution of African American culture. One solution? Encouraging scholars and students to study Black literature using Gale Literature Resource Center.


    The Fight for Inclusion

    Black writers have historically been excluded from the publishing industry, leading to poor representation across original literary fiction, scholarly articles, autobiographies, essays, criticisms, and more. As contemporary Black authors continue to fight for equality in publishing, representation is improving, but still has strides to make.

    Gale is committed to amplifying Black voices that have long been underrepresented. Gale Literature Resource Center supports the study of Black experiences with an extensive collection of Black literary classics and works by contemporary Black authors. The array of resources includes in Gale Literature Resource Center spans African American authors as well as international African and Afro-European authors.


    Themes in Black Literature

    Black literature is a key piece of the full literary spectrum and of the overall human experience. Works of classic and contemporary Black writers highlight Black achievements, spotlight historical racial struggles against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) groups, showcase the ugly truths of systemic racism, and lend a greater perspective to a range of everyday Black experiences. Reading African American literature helps students and scholars challenge racism, push back against Black stereotypes, and understand modern anti-racist movements.

    For centuries, Black authors have captured African American culture, historical fiction of slave narratives and post-slavery culture changes, the cultural revival of the Harlem Renaissance, feminist discourse from Black female authors, and numerous other topics related to the experiences of Black men and women. Studying Black stories can create cultural change and open more doors for contemporary Black authors to share their stories and change modern-day perspectives.


    Studying Black Literary History

    Black representation in novels is essential to understanding African, African American, and Afro-European culture, identity, and history. Literature by Black women and men can connect readers to shared modern experiences, promote self-discovery and self-acceptance, and encourage the sharing of more contemporary Black stories.

    Faculty and librarians can connect learners to Gale Literature Resource Center to research Black stories, including primary sources, biographies, and literary criticism, to develop a greater understanding of Black perspectives. With the expanse of content in Gale Literature Resource Center, you can empower researchers to dig deep into topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion in relation to Black communities and how they have evolved throughout history in America and across the globe.

Gale Literature Resource Center Highlights

In Gale Literature Resource Center, researchers can find up-to-date analysis, biographical information, overviews, full-text literary criticism, original works of literature, and reviews on more than 160,000 writers in all disciplines, from all time periods, and from around the world.

  • The database includes more than 2,100,000 full-text articles, critical essays, and reviews from over 450 scholarly journals and literary magazines. 
  • Daily content updates provide researchers with the most-current critical approaches and interpretations of authors and works, book reviews, and more.
  • Coverage of a diverse range of writers with a broad array of disciplines, time periods, and backgrounds from around the world delivers a full picture of representation in literature.
  • Primary works in a variety of genres—from science fiction writers, essayists, poets, and others—support close reading and the gathering of textual evidence to provide ample opportunity for reader-response activities. 
  • Materials support interdisciplinary approaches to the humanities, information literacy, and the development of critical-thinking skills.
  • Current and comprehensive literature criticism, biographical information, reviews, and references promote deeper literary understanding.

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Featured Authors: Black Literature

Among the thousands of primary sources, criticisms, essays, and articles in Gale Literature Resource Center, include works examining the following Black authors, poets, playwrights, and scholars:

  • Maya Angelou
  • James Baldwin
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • W. E. B. Du Bois
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Akwaeke Emezi
  • Roxane Gay
  • Nikki Giovanni 
  • Lorraine Hansberry
  • Langston Hughes
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Ibram X. Kendi
  • Audre Lorde
  • Toni Morrison
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Ann Petry
  • Angie Thomas
  • Alice Walker
  • Colson Whitehead
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Richard Wright
  • Malcolm X

Want to explore all that Gale Literature Resource Center has to offer?

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Did You Know?

Below are a few of the many accomplishments of Black literary figures throughout history. Gain access to the full biographies of countless influential Black writers in Gale Literature Resource Center.

  • Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.1
  • W. E. B. Du Bois was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from Harvard.2
  • A leader in the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was the first Black American to earn his living from writing.3
  • Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway.4
  • Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is often cited as the first Black feminist novel of the twentieth century.5
  • Toni Morrison was the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.6

Resource Spotlight:

Resource Spotlight: from “Introduction: History and the African-American Voice” (The Mississippi Quarterly; Vol. 49, Issue 4)

“African-American writers as artists have had to come to terms with the past while at the same time recreating or creating characters who must do the same. The writers have sought to reconcile past with present through the techniques they have adopted as well as through the characters they have created, who are themselves searching for such a reconciliation.

“When Styron, Williams, and Morrison chose to recreate the slave narrative, they did so in order to delve into the inner workings of the minds of slaves driven to violence by the horrors of slavery in the American South. As Elizabeth Fox-Genovese points out in ‘Slavery, Race, and the Figure of the Tragic Mulatta, or, The Ghost of Southern History in the Writing of African-American Women,’ the history of literature by black women writers in America from Harriet Jacobs to Sherley Anne Williams has been in part a coming to terms with the most painful memories associated with slavery. The figure of the tragic mulatta used by both black and white authors, for instance, served artistic as well as political purposes well into the 1890s. Matthew Davis, in ‘Strange history. Complicated, too’: Ishmael Reed’s Use of African-American History in Flight to Canada, ‘finds in the work of Williams Wells Brown, the author of perhaps the best known of the tales of the tragic mulatta, an explanation for the anachronisms that characterize Reed’s treatment of African-American history.”7



  1. Deanovich, Connie. “Brooks, Gwendolyn (1917–2000).” World Poets, edited by Ron Padgett, 143–151. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2000. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  2. W. E. B. Du Bois.” Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Deborah A. Stanley. Vol. 96. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1997. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  3. (James) Langston Hughes.” Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2003. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  4. Lorraine (Vivian) Hansberry.” Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2003. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  5. Jordan, Jennifer. “Feminist Fantasies: Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 7, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 105–117. Quoted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Roger Matuz and Cathy Falk. Vol. 61. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1990. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  6. Lubiano, Wahneema. “Morrison, Toni (1931– ).” African American Writers, 2nd ed., edited by Valerie Smith, 581–597. Vol. 2. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.
  7. Winchell, Donna Haisty. “Introduction: History and the African-American Voice.” The Mississippi Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1996): 705+. Gale Literature Resource Center, accessed September 30, 2022.