Naomi Lengthy Madgett, Champion of Black Poets, Is Lifeless at 97
Naomi Cornelia Lengthy was born on July 5, 1923, in Norfolk, Va. Her father, Clarence Marcellus Lengthy, was a famous Baptist minister; her mom, Maude Selena (Hilton) Lengthy, had been a trainer earlier than her marriage. Naomi grew up in East Orange, N.J., a deeply segregated metropolis the place the varsity she and her two brothers attended was marked by entrenched racial prejudice.
She recalled being the one Black baby within the A bit of her grade, in a faculty that relegated most Black youngsters to the C part. When her father accepted a publish as minister of a church in St. Louis and he or she entered the all-Black Sumner Excessive Faculty there, her life was irrevocably modified. She remembered arriving through the hush of an induction ceremony for the Nationwide Honor Society and being transfixed.
“Here’s a place you will be something you’re adequate to be,” she recalled pondering, “and I took off operating.”
Naomi had been writing poetry since she was 7 and had her first poem printed in a neighborhood newspaper when she was 13. Her father, whom she adored, thought her poems have been adequate to be printed as a guide, and he submitted them to a publishing home when she was 17, guaranteeing that he may persuade a sure variety of individuals to purchase it.
She had met Langston Hughes when she was 15 and attended a studying of his in St. Louis. When Mr. Hughes later gave a studying at her faculty, Virginia State College, she gave him her work, and he learn it alongside along with his, after which he grew to become a lifelong mentor. She earned a bachelor’s diploma in English from Virginia State and a grasp’s of training from Wayne State College. She labored briefly at a newspaper and for the cellphone firm whereas working towards her instructing diploma — all whereas writing poetry and publishing two collections.
Her marriage to Julian Witherspoon, a lawyer and activist she had met in highschool, led to divorce. So did her marriage to William Harold Madgett, a postal employee. After that, she later stated, she was decided to not marry once more, as a result of she didn’t belief her personal judgment. However Leonard Andrews, an educator and faculty principal, was a person too good to move up, she stated in “Star by Star,” and “that was the wedding that labored.”
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