Ishmael Reed, African-American novelist, poet, and publisher, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on February 22, 1938. Reed moved with his mother to Buffalo, New York in 1942. His mother worked in various wartime industries and Reed attended public schools, graduating in 1956. He also played violin and trombone and began writing a newspaper column on jazz for the Empire Star Weekly when he was thirteen. He enrolled as an evening student at Millard Fillmore College, the night school division of the University of Buffalo, and worked as a clerk at the Buffalo public library during the day. His writing ability was quickly recognized, and he moved into the bachelor of arts program at the University of Buffalo. He withdrew in 1960 because of a "dire shortage of funds" (Gates) and a "wide gap between social classes" (Gates). To escape "the artificial social and class distinctions that he associated with American university education," (Gates) he moved to Buffalo's Talbert Mall Project. Daily exposure to systematic poverty cycles in the projects led him to political activism in the civil rights and Black Power movements.
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
College or university
Approximately 20 recordings, microfilm, 65 feet
Performed music, Spoken word, Two-dimensional moving image, Text, and Still image
Pressed LP disc, LaserDisc, Open reel tape (unknown material), Analog audiocassette, VHS (including SVHS and VHS-C), Betamax, Text document, Photographic print, and Microfilm
Historical and Civil rights/activism
The collection is open for research. Two supplements to the Ishmael Reed papers have been acquired by the University of Delaware Library since 2001. Access to these supplements is limited pending completion of processing. Please contact Manuscripts Librarian in Special Collections for assistance.