Literary Birthdays – January 31 – February 6

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January 31

Arnold Geulincx (born January 31, 1624) – Dutch philosopher – Ethica

Read the Wikipedia entry for Arnold Geulincx here

“The love of right reason is the supreme virtue, whence flow the cardinal virtues, diligence, obedience, justice and humility. Since it is impossible for us to make any alteration in the world of matter, all we can do is to submit. Chief of the cardinal virtues is humility, a confession of our own helplessness and submission to God. Geulincx’s idea of life is ‘a resigned optimism’. ” [From:The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences …, Volumes 11-12]

K. Maro (Cyril Kamar) (born January 31, 1980) – French-Lebanese-Canadian rapper

Listen to a K.Maro song:

Lyrics to the above song:

Music makes me high

J’reviens bafouer les ondes et les pistes aux eclairs
fashion et flash c’est le son que je reve
J’observe comme dans un jeu de poker les valets,
les dames, les suites et les paires
Je conserve mes mauvaises manies,
de brouiller les cartes et de prendre les paris
Different je reste,
defoncer les portes quitte a faire, la paix

J’ai l’impression parfois d’etre sans voix
D’imaginer les images qu’on ne vois pas
De croiser deux univers qui ne se ressemblent pas
Et de creer une musique fashionista

It’s all about the music that takes me so high
Looking to the world out there in front of you all night
It’s all about the music that keeps me alive
Look so high above the sky

Toucher les cimes
Bafouer les regles
Carresser les rimes
Jouer l’espiegle
Chanter les hymnes
Les marche ou creve
Je deteste les boites de conserve

Couvrez moi de frime je resterai le meme
Je jouerai tous mes roles mais jamais le meme

It’s all about the music
Takes me so high
It’s all about the music
Above the sky!

February 1

Langston Hughes

photo by Gordon Parks (1941)

Langston Hughes (born February 1, 1902) – U.S. poet, playwright, novelist, essayist – Emperor of Haiti (1936)

Read a description of the play Emperor of Haiti

Verses from Hughes’ poem Cultural Exchange:

Pushcarts fold and unfold
In a supermarket sea.
And we better find out, mama,
Where is the colored laundromat
Since we move dup to Mount Vernon.

In the pot behind the paper doors
on the old iron stove what’s cooking?
What’s smelling, Leontyne?
Lieder, lovely Lieder
And a leaf of collard green.
Lovely Lieder, Leontyne.

You know, right at Christmas
They asked me if my blackness,
Would it rub off?
I said, Ask your mama.

Read the entire poem “Cultural Exchange” here

Visit Mark Bey’s November 2007 blog posts for audio
of Langston Hughes

Listen to I, Too

Watch Haley Buckner’s presentation about Langston Hughes

February 2 

Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr. (born February 2, 1861) U.S. poet, playwright

Read about Cotter here
and here

Frederick Douglas

O eloquent and caustic sage!
Thy long and rugged pilgrimage
To glory’s shrine has ended;
And thou hast passed the inner door,
And proved thy fitness o’er and o’er,
And to the dome ascended.

(see the entire poem here)

Night Winds

The slender moon in its silvery sheen,
The golden stars with the blue between
Of a dreamy, summer sky;
And still the night winds sigh.

With the silvery moon to whisper to,
And the golden stars to kiss, mid the blue
Of a listening, summer sky,
For what should the night winds sigh?

February 3

Marlon Riggs (born February 3, 1957) – U.S. documentary filmmaker, poet, activist

Marlon Riggs

Marlon Riggs painting by Kirsten McCrea (

Read a biography of Marlon Riggs

Read about Riggs’ controversial television
Tongues Untied

February 4

Buell Gallagher screenshot01 Buell Gordon Gallagher (born February 4, 1904) – U.S. Congregational minister, professor, president of Talledega College and City College of New York – American Caste and the Negro College (1938)

Read about Buell Gordon Gallagher here

Read about Gallagher’s part in the Talladega College murals:

Excerpt from Gallagher’s 1936 article

“Reorganize the college to discharge its social function”

“…the point of view of this chapter is that bi-racializm cannot be the permanent solution of the problem of the races in the United States….The dilemma confronting us is that it is difficult to know when one is strengthening segregation by fighting it, and when one is fighting segregation by strengthening it. …Are we, then, to condemn segregated peoples to decades, perhaps generations, of poor education? If we make the schools for Negroes as good as those for whites, we take part of the sting out of segregation and to that extent defeat the plea for justice; but if we do not make the segregated schools at least as good as the white schools, we cannot expect education to help us out of the present predicament.” (Journal of Negro Education Vol 5, No. 3 July 1936, pp 464-473)

February 5

Jermain Wesley Loguen (born February 5, 1813) – U.S. activist against slavery – The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, a Narrative of Real Life (1859)

Read the Wikipedia entry about Jermain Loguen:

Read Loguen’s autobiography online

Adassa Adassa (born February 5, 1987) – U.S. singer (Reggaeton) / songwriter

Read Adassa’s biography

Watch an Adassa interview (Spanish)

Listen to Adassa sing “We Belong Together”

February 6

Melvin Tolson Melvin B. Tolson (born February 6, 1898 or 1900) – U.S. poet, univeristy professor

Read a chronology and biography of Tolson here:

Read several biographical summaries here:

Anne Spencer (born February 6, 1882) – U.S. poet

Read a little about Anne Spencer here:

Read more here:

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