Award-winning author Ann Petry was the first African American woman writer to attain best seller status in the United States. Though born to a family with privileges, she and her sisters were subjected to many incidents of discrimination while growing up black in privileged society. As a child, she remembers being forced to read the parts of illiterate slaves in class to white students.
Faced with a society built on racism and sexism, Petry wrote about her experiences in books like “The Street” in 1946. She tackled feminism and wrote about a young mother struggling to raise her son in Harlem. Then that same year she released “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience,” which was published in the Negro Digest in 1946, where she talked about being kicked off of a local beach by a white racist.