One of the hardest motherfuckers of twentieth century lit, Chester Himes would've turned 100 today. He oftentimes gets short shrift because he bucked the Negro trend and abandoned the "protest novel" to write noir (hey! that's black, too--what gave?!). Personally, his protest If He Hollers Let Him Go was a real inspiration for me when I first started trying to write seriously. You should definitely check it out if you get a chance.
Also, you've gotta check out his hard-boiled Cotton Comes to Harlem and A Rage in Harlem. The man was more than a little twisted and totally unforgiving. His autobiographies, The Quality of Hurt and My Life of Absurdity are a delight--though, to call him a misogynist is an understatement.