SEPTEMBER 23: Anita Cornwell (1923-)


Happy birthday, Anita Cornwell!!
The LGBT activist and author of the very first collection of essay by a black
lesbian to be ever be published turns 94-years-old today!

Anita’s only fiction book to date, The Girls of Summer, was illustrated by Kelly Caines and published in 1989 (x).

Born on September 23, 1923, Anita
Cornwell was raised in Greendwood, South Carolina before the family moved to Pennsylvania
when she was 16. At first she lived with her aunt in the town of Yeadon, but she
later went to live with her mother in Philadelphia. Anita stayed up north for
college and eventually graduated with degrees in journalism and the social
sciences from Temple University. She worked as a journalist and a secretary
before her 1983 collection of essays, Black
Lesbian in White America
, made her a name to know in feminist and LGBT
circles. Along with Black Lesbian in White America, Anita’s writings that have
been published in Feminist Review, Labyrinth, National Leader, Los Angeles Free
, and The Negro Digest were
some of the first pieces of published writing where the author declares
themselves a proud black lesbian. Although Anita was surely not the first of
her kind in history, she is the mother of an entire branch of literature and an
LGBT hero.