Toni Cade Bambara Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111207060-Bambara.jpgToni Cade Bambara. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Born Toni Cade in New York City in 1939 to Helen Brent Henderson Cade, the author would legally add Bambara to her surname in 1970. She claims to have stumbled across the word in her grandmother’s sketch pad, and it is the name by which she is recognized as an influential African American writer of the latter twentieth century. Bambara’s mother, Helen, attracted to the artistic wellspring of the Harlem Renaissance of her day, encouraged her daughter to partake of the cultural resources available in New York City during the 1940’s and 1950’s, including museums, galleries, and performance spaces.

Following this enriching childhood, Bambara attended Queens College, majoring in theater and English and earning her bachelor of arts degree in 1959. Employment as a social worker followed, and she wrote fiction in her spare time, publishing her first piece at the age of twenty. Bambara left for Europe in 1961 to continue her arts training; in Paris, she practiced mime at the Ecole de Mime Etienne Decroux and studied commedia dell’arte at the University of Florence in Italy. Returning to New York, Bambara earned her M.A. from City College in 1964, where she first taught courses in English. By 1969, she was an assistant professor at Rutgers University. In addition to her classroom activities, Bambara continued to write and to serve her community through various arts outreach programs.

In 1970, Bambara began her work as an editor of ethnic anthologies. The Black Woman: An Anthology contained works by established writers such as Toni...

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Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bambara writes powerfully about the varied experiences of African American women across three decades of change: the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. In her stories and novels, characters’ expectations for a shared social consciousness are grounded by the realities of racial prejudice, sexual oppression, and class divide. However, her characters never abandon hope to embrace despair; instead, they take action. By imaginatively re-creating the patterns and sounds of ethnic speech, Bambara extends the range of voices heard in late twentieth century American literature.

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Toni Cade Bambara was born Miltona Mirkin Cade in New York City in 1939 and grew up in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Queens, New York, and in Jersey City, New Jersey. She attended Queens College in New York and received a B.A. degree in theater arts in 1959, the same year she published her first short story, “Sweet Town.” From 1960 to 1965, she worked on an M.A. degree in American literature at City College of New York, while also working as a caseworker at the Department of Welfare, and later as program director of the Colony Settlement House. Starting in 1965, she taught at City College for four years before moving on to Livingston College at Rutgers University in 1969. She also taught at Emory University, Spelman College (where she was a writer-in-residence during the 1970’s), and Atlanta University, at various times teaching writing, theater, and social work.

Her publication of The Black Woman, an anthology of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by established writers (such as Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, and Paule Marshall) and students demonstrated her commitment to both the women’s movement and the Civil Rights campaign. By the time she had published her first collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love, in 1972, she had adopted the last name of Bambara from a signature she found on a sketch pad in a trunk of her grandmother’s things.

Bambara’s belief in the connection between social activism and art was strengthened by a trip to Cuba in 1973, when she met with women’s organizations there. The increased urgency of concern for social activism appears in her second collection of short stories, The Sea Birds Are Still Alive. After her first novel, The Salt Eaters, was published in 1980 and received numerous awards, she increasingly turned her attention to her work in the arts, becoming an important writer of independent films, though she never stopped working on fiction. She died of cancer on December 9, 1995.

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Miltona Mirkin Cade was born in New York City on March 25, 1939, to Helen Brent Henderson Cade. She grew up in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Queens, where she lived with her mother and her brother, Walter. She credited her mother with “cultivating her creative spirit and instilling in her a sense of independence and self-sufficiency.” In 1970, after finding the name Bambara written in a sketchbook in her grandmother’s trunk, she legally changed her surname to Bambara. She received a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and English literature from Queens College in 1959, and that same year her first short story, “Sweet Town,” was published in Vendome magazine. After studying in Italy and Paris, she earned a master’s degree in American literature at City College of New York and completed additional studies in linguistics at New York University and the New School for Social Research. She was a social worker for the Harlem Welfare Center and director of recreation in the psychiatric division of Metro Hospital in New York City. She also taught in the Search for Education, Elevation, Knowledge (SEEK) program at City College.

In 1970, under the name Toni Cade, she published The Black Woman: An Anthology, a collection of essays, short fiction, poetry, and letters exploring the experiences of black women, with emphasis on their involvement with the Civil Rights movement and the women’s movement. In 1971 she edited Tales and...

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Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Given the name Miltona Mirkin Cade at birth, Toni Cade acquired the name Bambara in 1970 after she discovered it as part of a signature on a sketchbook she found in her great-grandmother’s trunk. Bambara spent her formative years in New York and Jersey City, New Jersey, attending public and private schools in the areas. Although she maintained that her early short stories are not autobiographical, the protagonists in many of these pieces are young women who recall Bambara’s inquisitiveness as a youngster.

Bambara attended Queens College, New York, and received a bachelor of arts degree in 1959. Earlier that year she had published her first short story, and she also received the John Golden award for fiction from Queens College. Bambara then entered the City College of New York, where she studied modern American fiction, but before completing her studies for the master’s degree, she traveled to Italy and studied in Milan, eventually returning to her studies and earning the master’s in 1963.

From 1959 to 1973, Bambara saw herself as an activist. She held positions as social worker, teacher, and counselor. In her various roles, Bambara saw herself as working for the betterment of the community. During the 1960’s, Rutgers State University developed a strong fine arts undergraduate program. Many talented black artists joined the faculty to practice their craft and to teach. Bambara was one of those talented faculty members. She taught,...

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Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Toni Cade Bambara (bam-BAHR-ah), born Miltona Mirkin Cade, was one of a group of African American writers who became involved in urban cultural and political activities in the 1960’s. While she lectured and organized rallies on civil rights issues, Bambara used these experiences as sources for essays and fiction. Bambara continued to work within the black urban environment by lecturing, filming, organizing, and teaching in colleges and community schools.{$S[A]Cade, Miltona Mirkin;Bambara, Toni Cade}

Reared with her brother by a single mother in New York City, Bambara was encouraged to be self-sufficient and competent, yet she found women in every neighborhood who cared about black girls and offered liberal advice....

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Toni Cade Bambara Biography

Toni Cade Bambara887_1227516605.jpg


Although her contemporaries Toni Morrison and Alice Walker may have gained more acclaim and fame, Toni Cade Bambara ranks with them in terms of influencing subsequent generations of writers. Bambara, like Walker and Morrison, helped define (and redefine) the voice of African-American women. Bambara helped assert that voice by narrating her tales from a first-person point of view. This intimate approach to storytelling invited audiences to share in her characters’ struggles and joys. Bambara also set herself apart with her positive tone, exploring the African-American female psyche through growth and happiness. Her contributions to African-American literature have earned Bambara the reputation of a pioneer.

Essential Facts

  1. Education was as much a part of Bambara’s career as her writing. She taught courses at Rutgers University and Spellman College.
  2. In addition to her fiction writing, Bambara dabbled in other art forms as well. She completed several scripts and contributed to a documentary about W. E. B. Du Bois.
  3. Bambara died of colon cancer on December 9, 1995.
  4. One of Bambara’s most important works, Those Bones Are Not My Child , was published posthumously. This unfinished account of the child murders that plagued Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s and early 1980s was completed based on Bambara’s extensive notes.
  5. Toni Morrison also published a posthumous collection of Bambara’s nonfiction under the title Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions.

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Toni Cade Bambara was an African American writer, film critic and teacher who conveyed her message about the necessity for social activism in...

(The entire section is 702 words.)

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Born Miltona Mirkin Cade in 1939, in New York City, Toni Cade Bambara adopted the African name "Bambara" in 1970. Upon her death in 1995, the...

(The entire section is 556 words.)

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Born Miltona Mirkin Cade in 1939 in New York City, Bambara adopted the African name ‘‘Bambara’’ in 1970. Upon her death in 1995, the...

(The entire section is 561 words.)

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Toni Cade Bambara was born March 25, 1939, in New York City in Harlem. Her family moved frequently, and Bambara spent her childhood in...

(The entire section is 477 words.)

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Toni Cade Bambara, writer, filmmaker, and political activist, says she has known ‘‘the power of the word’’ since she was a child on...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Toni Cade Bambara Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Toni Cade Bambara was born Miltona Mirkin Cade on March 25, 1939, in New York City. She and her brother were raised by a single mother in...

(The entire section is 449 words.)