Effie Lee Newsome probably isn’t the first name that pops up when discussing Harlem Renaissance writers or illustrators, but she was a part of many and varied projects in the first half of the 20th Century.
I chose Effie Lee Newsome to highlight today over people like Jessie Redmond Fauset (a NJ native!) because her focus was on children, and she is primarily known as a children’s poet — which often relegates people into a subset more easily overlooked.
Another reason I chose her is because, sadly, it’s not easy to find varied digitized information about her influence and background. Much of it seems to be regurgitated details and facts borrowed from various sources like Project Muse.
However, one of her tasks for W.E.B. DuBois’s magazine The Brownies’ Book and The Crisis was to educate young people about their history, and guiding righteous anger into effective and positive action. She was also a forerunner of the Black is Beautiful movement. And don’t mistake her poetry, created for children, as childish. These are no nursery rhymes. Check out Morning Light (The Dew-Driers) here.
I found a First Edition of Ms. Newsome’s African Folk Tales for a mere $1500. But Wonders, a collection of her children’s poems, is available for much less.