Voices of Black Literature: Margaret Daramola

Mia Concepcion | Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Margaret Daramola

Black literature keeps Black thought alive. It conveys the experiences that Africans and African-Americans have undergone from the past until now. Their words, taking multiple forms in books, poetry, and songs, tell stories that will live on forever and never be forgotten. Although threatened when they raised their voices, the truth behind what it means to be Black was much more important.

A Hampton University sophomore is making an impact with her poetry and recently released book, A Pathway through Survival.  Margaret Daramola, an English major from Switzerland, released a collection of poems written during different points of her life.  It took her two years to finish writing her book.

“I took my time with each poem. I wanted the collection to be raw and relatable. I wanted my readers to find language for their suppressed feelings; those overwhelming emotions that they experience, yet know how to describe,” Daramola remarked.

Daramola began writing as a way to express herself. 

“I was going through an emotional turmoil when I first decided to start writing a book. I knew that things would eventually get better, because they always have. But this time, I just had to document my journey,” said Daramola.

Being an extrovert, there were some things that she needed to handle privately, and poetry was the best way to do this. She’s influenced by a broad spectrum of poets, including Titilope Sonugua. 

“For certain poets, I actually admire their slam poetry more than their writtens ones,” she said.  

Daramola highlighted the differences between slam poetry and written poetry, and why she loves both.

“Slam poetry is visual. It allows people to see emotions that are written on the page,” Daramola explained. “Written poetry conveys those emotions just through the page, and that takes a lot of practice.”

Following the publishing of her book, Maragarat’s next plan is to make it available in other languages. An audiobook is also on the way for those who would like to listen to it on the go. 

Maya Angelou, a poet whose works of art remain timeless, is among those that have made contributions to Black literature. After enduring a traumatic rape, Angelou lost her voice to only find it again. Her voice came back stronger, and her mouth filled with a message she wanted the world to hear. Angelou began publishing her collections of poems in volumes, some of them including Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (1971), And Still I Rise (1978), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), and I Shall Not Be Moved (1990). Her other most famous poems include I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Still I rise.  Although Angelou died in 2014, readers will always have something to cling to and read the impactful words she left behind. 

One of the greatest songstresses in African-American history was Billie Holiday. Holiday used her sultry sound to inform her listeners on the injustice that black folk had to endure. Known for her track “Strange Fruit,” which ranked number 4 on the pop charts in 1939, according to Billboard. “Strange Fruit” was both a hit and a hindrance to Holiday’s career.  The poem-turned-song was a reminder of Holiday’s father’s death, and the lynchings that continued in the South. 

According to Eudie Pak, an LA based freelance writer for Biography, states that this anthem was problematic. Activists embraced her top-charting record while others rejected it, bringing Holiday enemies that would haunt her until death. Harry Anslinger, the appointed commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, emphatically tried to pin her for selling heroin. He deemed this as payback for Holiday’s refusal to stop singing the “song of the century”  Strange fruit. He and his men even ordered doctors to neglect treating Holiday’s medical needs in the hospital as she was battling cirrhosis. Her story is tragic, but her legacy lives on through the songs she sang. Her truth that she dared to share was a sign of bravery, and fans always remember her for that.

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