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Naomi Long Madgett, a former educator and poet laureate for the city of Detroit has given voice to several African-American poets by way of her publishing company and has left a mark in the Motor City in other ways as well.

Born Naomi Cornelia Long on July 5, 1923, Madgett discovered a love for reading and writing at a young age. When she turned 17, just out of high school, she published the first of her books of poetry. Madgett graduated from what is now Virginia State University in 1945.

The following year Madgett married and moved to Detroit. She earned her Masters of Education degree at Wayne State University in Detroit in 1955 after years working as a copywriter.

In the ’60’s, Madgett was the first teacher to introduce African-American literature in Detroit Public Schools. She also continued writing poetry during this period, with much of her work drawing from tales of Black achievement and overcoming of racism during segregation.

In 1968, she joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, teaching Creative Writing and Black Literature courses. In 1972, while trying to publish the fourth of her 10 books of poetry, she became frustrated with rejections from publishers. So Madgett established the Lotus Press publishing company, a Detroit-based company still in operation today that has published several works from Black poets around the nation.

LIttle Known Black History Fact: Naomi Long Madgett  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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