Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995) was born Miltona Mirkin Cade, on March 25, 1939 in New York City to Helen Brent Henderson. Her childhood was spent with her mother and brother in New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey. Toni’s mother was greatly influenced by the Black Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, she encouraged her daughter to write, and take pride in her African-American culture and history. She wanted to insure that Toni’s education was as balanced as possible, so she instructed Toni’s teachers about African American history. Bambara was a bright, hardworking student and finished high school 6 months early.
In 1959 Bambara published her first short story, “Sweet Town” and received her B.A. in theater arts/English from Queens College. She worked as a social worker, occupational therapist, and director of various neighborhood projects while earning her Master’s degree in M
Bambara taught at universities and was a frequent lecturer. In the 1970s she was active in both the black liberation and the women’s movements which lead her to edit and publish an anthology entitled The Black Woman. The work is a collection of short stories, poetry,
She went on to publish Gorilla, My Love (1972), The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977), The Salt Eaters (1980) and If Blessing Comes (1987). She also contributed to and collaborated on many projects in literature and film. In 1988 she co-founded the Southern Collective of African-American Writers.
Deeply influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s, Toni Bambara worked to raise Black American consciousness and pride.
“The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible.”
-Toni Cade Bambara