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Jessica Johnston, Author

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Writer Gwendolyn Bennett

Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-1981) – author, poet, playwright, editor, artist. Born in Texas, moved to the Paiute Indian Reservation in Nevada, then when she was four years old her family moved to Washington D.C. Bennett attended Columbia University and the Pratt Institute at the same time and received degrees from both institutions in 1924. In her undergraduate studies, Bennett's poem "Heritage" was published in Crisis magazine and Opportunity magazine in 1923. After graduating she was hired by Howard University to teach fine arts but only taught for one semester because she received a scholarship in December of that year enabling her to study abroad in Paris, at Sorbonne. She then continued her fine arts education at Academic Julian and Ecole du Pantheon in Paris. During her studies in Paris, Bennett worked with a variety of materials, including watercolor, oil, woodcuts, pen and ink, and batik which was the beginning of her career as a graphic artist. After returning to the United States, Bennett worked as an assistant to the editor of Opportunity, which was the National Urban League’s academic journal, and was given the chance to publish articles on literature and the fine arts.


When I am dead, carve this upon my stone:

Here lies a woman, fit root for flower and tree,

Whose living flesh, now mouldering round the bone,

Wants nothing more than this for immortality,

That in her heart, where love so long unfruited lay

A seed for grass or weed shall grow,

And push to light and air its heedless way;

That she who lies here dead may know

Through all the putrid marrow of her bones

The searing pangs of birth,

While none may know the pains nor hear the groans

Of she who lived with barrenness upon the earth.

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