Bebe Moore Campbell’s early works were primarily nonfiction. Her first book, Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage (1986), delves into the effects of the feminist movement on family structure, most notably the shifting gender roles that result when women, either of necessity or in quest of self-actualization, seek work outside the home, sometimes upsetting the balance within. Her second work, Sweet Summer: Growing Up with and Without My Dad (1989), is her memoir as a child of divorce having to spend the school year with her mother in Philadelphia and summer with her father in North Carolina. The book was hailed for showing loving relationships in the black community and for stressing the importance of male figures in young girls’ lives. Poet Nikki Giovanni praised it for providing “a corrective to some of the destructive images of black men that are prevalent in our society” and doing so with vitality and clarity. Campbell also produced nonfiction articles for a wide range of publications, including Essence, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Black Enterprise, Working Mother, Adweek, Ms., and Glamour; she was a contributing editor for Essence, Black Enterprise, and Savvy. In the late 1990’s, she was a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. She wrote two radio dramas that were produced by the Midwestern Radio Theater, earning first place in one of its Workshop Competitions.
Bebe Moore Campbell has been called one of the most important African American authors of the twentieth century, and she received numerous awards and grants and earned national attention and praise. She was presented with the Body of Work Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women in 1978, received a National Endowment for the Arts literature grant in 1980, and won the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Award for Fiction in 1994. In 2003, her children’s book about a child dealing with her mother’s mental illness, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, won the Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Outstanding Literature Award. Her novel What You Owe Me was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year in 2001.
Campbell, Bebe Moore. “Bebe Moore Campbell: Her Memoir of ‘A Special Childhood’ Celebrates the Different Styles of Her Upbringing in a Divided Black Family.” Interview by Lisa See. Publishers Weekly, June 30, 1989, 82-84.
Campbell, Bebe Moore. “I Hope I Can Teach a Little Bit: An Interview with Bebe Moore Campbell.” Interview by Martha Satz. Southwest Review 81 (Spring, 1996): 195-213. In an in-depth discussion (that occurred in November, 1995), Campbell shares her views on the need for successful African Americans who have moved up and away from their old neighborhoods to stay in touch with the people who are still there, particularly with children who need mentoring.
Campbell, Bebe Moore. “Interview with Bebe Moore Campbell.” Interview by Jane Campbell. Callaloo 22, no. 4 (1999): 954-973. Extensive interview provides information on, among other matters, Campbell’s influences and those she credits with being role models for her writing and her literary style.
Chambers, Veronica. “Which Counts More, Gender or Race?” The New York Times Magazine, December 25, 1994. Chambers moderates a conversation between Bebe Moore Campbell and Joyce Carol Oates in which the two authors discuss such topics as Black English, interracial dating, liberal white guilt, and the historic importance of...
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