Garden Memorial Park Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi, USA
Margaret Walker (Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander by marriage; July 7, 1915 – November 30, 1998) was an American poet and writer. She was part of the African-American literary movement in Chicago, known as the Chicago Black Renaissance. Her notable works include For My People (1942) which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition, and the novel Jubilee (1966), set in the South during the American Civil War.
Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to Sigismund C. Walker, a minister, and Marion Dozier, who helped their daughter by teaching her philosophy and poetry as a child. Her family moved to New Orleans when Walker was a young girl. She attended school there, including several years of college, before she moved north to Chicago. As a young woman, Walker had the opportunity to meet Langston Hughes when he visited New Orleans on a reading tour. Hughes recognized her talent and encouraged Walker, who was enrolled at the time in New Orleans University, to seek greater educational opportunities at a northern university. On his advice, Walker went to Chicago to study at Northwestern University.
In 1935, Walker received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Northwestern University. In 1936 she began work with the Federal Writers' Project under the Works Progress Administration of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression. She was a member of the South Side Writers Group, which included authors such as Richard Wright, Arna Bontemps, Fenton Johnson, Theodore Ward, and Frank Marshall Davis. In 1942, she received her master's degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa. In 1965, she returned to that school to earn her Ph.D. Walker married Firnist Alexander in 1943 and moved to Mississippi to be with him. They had four children together and lived in the capital of Jackson.
Walker died of breast cancer in Chicago, Illinois, in 1998, aged 83. Walker was inducted into The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2014. Walker was honored with a historical maker through the Mississippi Writers Trail.
by Carl Van Vechten
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