Joyce Carol Thomas was one of nine children born into a cotton-picking family in rural Oklahoma. She died last month on the 16th in Berkeley, California.
Ms. Thomas started out writing poetry and plays and then moved on to young adult fiction. Her first young adult novel, Marked by Fire, was published in 1982 and won the National Book Award in 1983.
She said in one interview, “I know of black boys and girls who squirm uncomfortably in their desks at the two-dimensional, unrelenting portrayal of young people as either victims of slavery or perennial do-rag wearers hanging out on a stoop next to a garbage can. There are black American stories somewhere between slavery and ghetto that also deserve telling.” Her work explored issues of identity and the experience…
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