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Black History Month


Writing was always author's dream

While a student at the University of Pittsburgh, author Bebe Moore Campbell read African-American literature for the first time. It opened her eyes to a new way of writing, and she knew this was what she wanted to do with her life.

Her interest in writing began in a third-grade creative writing class, but she didn't believe she could make it her career. Growing up in Philadelphia in the late 1960s, Campbell knew of very few black female role models who weren't teachers, nurses, wives and mothers. She attended Pitt to get her teaching degree.

But Campbell kept chasing her dream of writing while teaching elementary school here and in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. While living in Washington, she took the step that led to her first real opportunity.

The editor of Essence magazine was coming to town for a conference at Howard University. Then a single mother, Campbell took her baby and a friend to the conference. When the editor finished speaking, Campbell handed her baby to her friend, chased down the editor in the ladies room and told her about her dream.

Soon she was writing non-fiction stories for Essence, the Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Her first book was published in 1986. Her second, ''Sweet Summer: Growing up With and Without My Dad,'' a memoir about being the child of divorce, earned national praise.

Since then, she's published two novels, ''Your Blues Ain't Like Mine'' and ''Brothers and Sisters.'' Her third novel, ''Singing in the Comeback Choir,'' is new this month.

A writer who has been on The New York Times bestseller list, Campbell has been called one of the most important African-American authors of the 20th century, earning the NAACP's Image Award for fiction and receiving an honorary doctorate degree from Westfield State College.

-- By Debra Alward

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