Toni Cade was born in New York City and began writing as a child. She published her first short story in 1959, the year she received a B.A. degree from Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina. She received an M.A. degree in American literature from the City College of New York in 1963. In addition to writing, her diverse career included teaching, social work, documentary filmmaking, and community activism.Cade added Bambara to her name when she discovered it as a signature in her grandmother's sketchbook. In 1970 Bambara edited the anthology The Black Woman. This work was partially a response to the Civil Rights Movement and the women's movement, and included works by African American poet Nikki Giovanni, American-born Grenadan writer Audre Lorde, African American author Paule Marshall, and Pulitzer Prize-winning African American writer Alice Walker. In 1971 Bambara edited a second anthology, Tales and Stories for Black Folks.’ Her first collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love, was published in 1972, and her second, The Sea Birds Are Still Alive, in 1977. Her novel The Salt Eaters was published in 1980 and won the American Book Award in 1981. Bambara began writing and editing documentary films in the 1980s, collaborating with director Louis Massiah on The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986), a film about the controversial 1985 police bombing of the MOVE organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also worked with Massiah on a film biography of the African American writer and intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois.Bambara stated often that art needed to reflect social commitment, and her fiction emphasizes the importance of community and social activism. Her own activism included participation in women's groups, particularly those supporting women of color. She continued her work with writers' workshops and community groups until her death.See also Literature, African American; MOVE; Women Writers, Black, in the United States.
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