It’s not too late to discover Louise Meriwether
In 1965, Meriwether obtained a Masters of Journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles. After three years at The Sentinel, she left the newspaper to become the first African American story analyst at Universal Studios, a job that involved reading and commenting on scripts. Around this time, she also joined the Watts Writers Workshop, a collective of screenwriter Budd Schulberg, where she began writing “Daddy Was a Number Runner”. “I remember wondering: this woman is a great writer. What does she do in a workshop? poet Quincy Troupe said in an interview. “She was way above everyone else.”
When Troupe remembers their friendship, he remembers a time when he is convinced that she saved his life. On his way home from a poetry reading, he was arrested and searched by police. Meriwether was on the road with a lawyer friend. When she saw Troupe, she stopped her car and went to question the officers, asking for their badge numbers.
“I said, ‘I have your numbers, and he’s my lawyer over there,’ in case they try to shoot me,” Meriwether said. “That kind of defusing the situation, you know? “
In 1969, Meriwether, who had divorced, returned to New York to care for her ailing mother. As she did in Los Angeles, she immersed herself in the artistic and political scenes of New York, creating the Committee of Concerned Blacks, an anti-apartheid group, in 1972, and joining the Harlem Writers Guild, a group whose founders included writers John Henrik Clarke, Rosa Guy and John Oliver Killens. His circle of friends included even more writers, including Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez.
“I think one thing you can get from Louise is loyalty, support and undying love for her people,” said Hill, her friend and guardian.