African American Literature is written by, about, and sometimes specifically for African Americans. As African Americans' place in American society has changed over the centuries, so has the focus of African-American Literature.

The African American Literature genre began during the 18th and 19th centuries with writers such as poet Phillis Wheatley and orator Frederick Douglass reached an early high point with the Harlem Renaissance and continues today with authors such as Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Walter Mosley being ranked among the top writers in the United States. Among the themes and issues explored in African American literature is the role of African Americans within the larger American society, African American culture, racism, slavery, and equality.