Black HERstory: Dorthy West

Dorothy West (b. June 2, 1907 – d. August 16, 1998)

Today’s feature is on novelist and short writer Dorothy West. West is best known for her novel The Living Is Easy, a story about the life of an upper-class black family.

“In 1926, West tied for second place in a writing contest sponsored by Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, with her short story “The Typewriter”. The person West tied with was future novelist Zora Neale Hurston.”

West is also a Harlem Renaissance alum, Langston Hughes gave West the nickname of “The Kid”, by which she was known during her time in Harlem.

“West’s principal contribution to the Harlem Renaissance was to publish the magazine Challenge, which she founded in 1934 with $40. She also published the magazines successor, New Challenge. These magazines were among the first to publish literature featuring realistic portrayals of African Americans. Among the works published were Richard Wright‘s groundbreaking essay “Blueprint for Negro Writing,” together with writings by Margaret Walker and Ralph Ellison.”

At the time of her death, she was one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance.  In 1998, Oprah Winfrey turned her novel, The Wedding Story, into a two-part television miniseries, The Wedding (TV miniseries).

“There is no life that does not contribute to history.” – Dorothy West

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