Discovering black romance

Darlene Clark Hine, professor of African American studies and history, believes romance written by and starring black women has an important, honorable place in U.S. history. But when did she first discover African American love stories herself? Back before African American romances were their own subgenre, periodicals featured stories of black love.

Transcript

When did you discover African American romance stories?

Well, I remember back in the ‘60s when I first became aware of black romance writings. It was in the form of periodicals on newsstands, black love stories. There were always beautiful black women and handsome, dashing black men. During the early ‘60s, we would pick these magazines up and that’s how you learned about black romance and love stories.

And there was always some kind of evil force that separated them. It could have been a jealous sister or a conniving mother who didn’t think that the girl was good enough for her handsome son. Or it could have been some mysterious happening, whatever. But they were always very passionate, and after trial and tribulation, true love always triumphed. Sometimes it was in a very unexpected way, but that’s what love was about—it was always a struggle [. . .]

[. . .] And these were before I became consciously aware that there were black novels with black characters written by black women, I think that must have been a generation later. So all I’m suggesting is that there was a market for black romance, there were consumers of black romance [. . .]

[. . .] There were black publishers out there. And as far as true-life love stories, you always found them in magazines like Ebony and Johnson Publications. So there were—Sepia—all kinds of black magazines that touched upon love and loss and redemption.

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