6. Marita Golden: ‘A Literary Disturber of the Peace’

Marita Golden's booksMarita Golden has a way with words. She births them, nurtures them and coaxes them out the depths of a budding writer’s soul. For the last quarter-century, she has been accomplishing this through the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, which she co-founded in 1990.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the foundation sponsors the coveted Legacy Awards for published authors, an annual summer writing workshop that draws the best and brightest on both ends of the creative process and a fiction award for college students. The foundation, named in honor of literary icons Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, also holds a range of activities in homage to the written word, such as a Food & Folklore event to commemorate the 150th year of Juneteenth last summer.

Photo: Susan Downs

Acclaimed author Marita Golden is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Photo: Susan Downs

A literary activist or “literary disturber of the peace,” Golden has provoked all sorts of thoughts on everything from violence to parenting in her own books. A master storyteller, she is the rare author who excels at both nonfiction and fiction. Her words can make readers laugh, cry or do both at the same time.

She has written more than a dozen books, including Migrations of the Heart, Saving Our Sons: Raising Black Children in a Turbulent World and Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex. Her anthologies include Gumbo, edited with the late E. Lynn Harris, and The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing. 

Golden also founded the African American Writers Guild. She has inspired and encouraged writers all over the world as a friend, mentor, workshop leader and instructor from American University to the University of Lagos in Nigeria.

“A good narrative, whether it is fiction or nonfiction,” the award-winning author says, “requires that you look at and experience the world with new eyes and a new heart.”