His Books Challenged Perceptions Of Black Heroes

Walter Mosley
Shonda Buchanan
September 8, 2020

A Black private investigator. A damsel in distress. A best friend who might shoot you – but always had your back. That’s the book he’d write, Walter Mosley thought.

No one was writing about Black men as heroes or about Black California. He vowed to change this – but it wouldn’t be easy.

When he finally typed “The End” on the last page of Devil In A Blue Dress in 1990, no one wanted to publish it. “White people are not interested,” an editor told him, “[and] Black men don't read.”

He wondered if he should just give up.

His protagonist, Easy Rawlins, was an out-of-work WWII veteran who turned detective to pay the bills. Mosley wanted Rawlins to navigate racial tension, segregation, and police brutality in Los Angeles. 

But white publishers didn’t want a Black hero! He resolved to keep trying.

When Mosley finally got the book published? It was a bestseller! It was even made into a film starring Denzel Washington

His books showed multifaceted Black heroes solving crimes, helping the Black community AND taking care of their families.

Over 60 bestselling books later, this award-winning producer, author, and film and TV writer shows us how we can challenge racism no matter our talents or what field we’re in – and we can even use words as our weapons.

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