Black History 365, National Poetry Month edition: Jessie Redmon Fauset

Since there are so many facets of the history that people of African descent have made in this country, I’ve decided to continue my “Black History 365″ series from my poetry blog here on my AfrocentriqueAZ blog. In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a new Black poet every day this month. Every Wednesday for the months after that I will post other Black history figures (I’ll go back to my “first Black” series). 

Today’s poet is Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset

 

From Famous Poets and Poems and Wikipedia:

Jessie Redmon Fauset (April 27, 1882 – April 30, 1961) was an American editor, poet, essayist and novelist.

Fauset was the editor of the NAACP magazine The Crisis. She also was the editor and co-author for the African American children’s magazine Brownies’ Book. She studied the teachings and beliefs of W.E.B Du Bois and considered him to be her mentor. Fauset was known as one of the most intelligent women novelists of the Harlem Renaissance, earning her the name “the midwife”. In her lifetime she wrote four novels as well as poetry and short fiction.

Fauset was born on April 27, 1882 in Camden County, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Redmon Fauset, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and Annie Seamon Fauset. Jessie’s mother died when she was a child and her father remarried. Fauset came from a large family mired in poverty. She attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls, and became the school’s first African-American graduate. She wanted to study at Bryn Mawr College but they circumvented the issue of admitting a black student by finding her a scholarship for another university and so she continued her education at Cornell University. She graduated from Cornell University[3] in 1905 with a degree in classical languages. It was speculated that she was the first black woman in the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Fauset later received her Master’s degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania.

Following graduation Fauset became a teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington DC, spending her summers in Paris studying at la Sorbonne. In 1919 Fauset left teaching and became the literary editor for the The Crisis alongside W.E.B. Du Bois until 1926. Fauset became a member of the NAACP and represented them in the Pan African Congress in 1921. After her Congress speech, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority made her an honorary member.

Fauset married insurance broker Herbert Harris in 1929 at the age of 47. Harris died in 1958. She then moved back to Philadelphia with her stepbrother. Fauset died on April 30, 1961 from heart disease.

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