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The first African American to publish a book in the South, the author of the first female slave narrative in the United States, the father of black nationalism in America--these and other founders of African American literature have a surprising connection to one another: they all hailed from the state of North Carolina.

This collection of poetry, fiction, autobiography, and essays showcases some of the best work of eight influential African American writers from North Carolina during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In his introduction, William L. Andrews explores the reasons why black North Carolinians made such a disproportionate contribution (in quantity and lasting quality) to African American literature as compared to that of other southern states with larger African American populations. The authors in this anthology parlayed both the advantages and disadvantages of their North Carolina beginnings into sophisticated perspectives on the best and the worst of which humanity, in both the South and the North, was capable. They created an African American literary tradition unrivaled by that of any other state in the South.

Writers included here are Charles W. Chesnutt, Anna Julia Cooper, David Bryant Fulton, George Moses Horton, Harriet Jacobs, Lunsford Lane, Moses Roper, and David Walker.

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