For My People

Margaret Walker; Foreword by Stephen Vincent Benet

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October 22, 2019
64 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300246407
Paper

An exploration of race and heritage, For My People is the first book by poet and novelist Margaret Walker (1915–1998) and the 41st volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets
 
Considered among the most important collections of poetry written by a participant in the Black Chicago Renaissance, For My People is a series of ballad poems with memorable characters, including the New Orleans sorceress Molly Means; Kissie Lee, a tough young woman who dies “with her boots on switching blades”; Poppa Chicken, an urban drug dealer and pimp; John Henry, killed by a ten-pound hammer; and Stagolee, who kills a white officer but eludes a lynch mob. The memorable title poem evokes the power of resilience not only for black people, but for all people.

Margaret Walker (later Mrs. F. J. Alexander) was director of the Institute for the Study of History, Life, and Culture of Black People at Jackson State College. Her novel, Jubilee, published in 1966, has been translated into a number of European languages.
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