In 1992 when I joined the faculty at the University of Richmond, I taught a class in black women's literature to a group of mainly white students who had previously read little or nothing in this body of literature. One young senior--a white male--did a paper comparing the sympathetic portrayal of the white male character in Beryl Gilroy's Stedman and Joanna and Bebe Moore Campbell's Your Blues Ain't Like Mine. His enthusiasm for the rich body of literature to which I had introduced him continued after he graduated, and he often wrote to me about books he was reading and lectures he was attending. In one letter he told me of his attendance at a book-signing for Bebe Moore Campbell. Afterwards he told her about his paper, but he was shocked that she didn't know the works of Beryl Gilroy. He thus felt obligated to lecture Ms. Campbell on this void in her education. I had to smile at the audacity of this brash young man for whom African American literature and Caribbean literature were a completely unknown area a few years ago. But he was now well aware of what we must be sure that the whole world knows--that Beryl Gilroy is a literary figure whose works all literate people should read. As teachers and scholars, our task is to enrich the world of literary scholarship by being sure our students read her work and begin the important task of producing critical studies that will live up to the originals with which she has enriched us.

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Copyright © 1998, Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. This article first appeared in MaComère: 1:1 (1998), 1-3.

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