People of Brookline

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Murita Odette Bonner
1899 – 1971. Parents: Joseph Andrew Bonner and Mary Ann Noel; married William Almy Occomy; lived at 221 Harvard St.

Her family moved to Brookline around the time of her birth in 1899. Her father then spent two decades as a live-in superintendent for Brookline apartment buildings - at 1369 Beacon from 1899 until circa 1911, then at 217-221 Harvard St. (still standing) until circa 1918 when the family purchased a home in Boston and Marita started college.

Marita Bonner was an accomplished author of short stories, essays, plays, and magazine articles and was prominent in the Harlem Renaissance. Her Wikipedia entry writes:

”She attended Brookline High School, where she contributed to the school magazine, The Sagamore. She excelled in German and Music, and was a very talented pianist. In 1917, she graduated from Brookline High School and in 1918 enrolled in Radcliffe College, commuting to campus because many African-American students were denied dormitory accommodation. In college, she majored in English and Comparative Literature, while continuing to study German and musical composition. At Radcliffe, African-American students were not permitted to board, and many either lived in houses off-campus set aside for black students, or commuted, as Bonner did. Bonner was an accomplished student at Radcliffe, founding the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority, and participating in many musical clubs (she twice won the Radcliffe song competition). She was also accepted to a competitive writing class that was open to 16 students, where her professor, Charles Townsend Copeland, encouraged her not to be "bitter" when writing, a descriptor often used for authors of color.[2] In addition to her studies, she taught at a high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After finishing her schooling in 1922,[3] she continued to teach at Bluefield Colored Institute in West Virginia. Two years later, she took on a position at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., until 1930, during which time her mother and father both died suddenly. While in Washington, Bonner became closely associated with poet, playwright and composer Georgia Douglas Johnson. Johnson's "S Street salon" was an important meeting place for many of the writers and artists involved in the New Negro Renaissance.

While living in Washington D.C., Bonner met William Almy Occomy. They married and moved to Chicago, where Bonner's writing career took off. After marrying Occomy, she began to write under her married name. After 1941, Bonner gave up publishing her works and devoted her time to her family, including three children.[4] She began teaching again in the 1940s and finally retired in 1963.”