Tag Archives: black women writers

Road Paver – Kathleen Collins

Today would have been the 77th birthday of poet, playwright, writer, filmmaker, director, civil rights activist, and educator, Kathleen Collins.  I am taking time to insert her into my repertoire because she was the first black woman to direct a feature-length drama. Collins paved the road for Julie Dash. Commonly, Julie Dash is given credit for being the first black woman to direct a feature length film.

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Influenced by the works of playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, Collins’ work centered around African Americans as human subjects and not as mere race subjects. This being a clear indication to her black feminism work in film and activism against vilified images and stereotypes.

As I journey on this path of shifting, reflecting and altering my personal perceptions of my artistic work in literature, I am “inserting” the names of black women who may exist prominently in the shadows. May their names and work re-join the rain dancers and roux makers of black women creators.

Happy Birthday Kathleen Collins!

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Re-membering Vinnette Justine Carroll…

My research focuses on the “insertion” work of black women in literature, particularly theatre. Carroll is a “first” that probably a lot of people do not know about, not just theatre but Broadway.

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Today on her birthday, I re-member Vinnette Justine Carroll who was the “first” black woman to direct a play on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. In addition, until 2016, Carroll was the only black woman to have received a Tony Award nomination for direction. That is 44 years, four decades, that passed before Tony consideration was given for a black woman director on Broadway. And just to do the math, when Carroll made history directing this musical, Broadway had been producing theatre for approximately 115 years.

Carroll was also an actor and playwright. She is known for the reinvention of song-play, the expression of identity through gospel music in the African-American theatre experience. Not surprising, Carroll was into creating and directing new works that positively and artistically presented people of color in theater and art. Her primary interest was giving voice to African Americans and other minority communities that have been culturally and artistically silenced.

Happy birthday to Tony Award nominated director, Vinnette Justine Carroll! Add her name to your name of black women being properly “inserted” and recognized for her artistic contributions in theatre.

 

Alice Walker… the Scholar

I have seen Alice Walker speak twice here in Atlanta. Both times, the crowd was mostly women, predominately white women. My last observation of the energy from the admiration of her literary works came during the Q and A. I remember sitting there trying to construct a precise question on how she connects her creative process with her person as a black woman. What I realized specifically is that the majority of the questions from the black women were trying to get the same information as I was and that the white women were asking her about spirituality. I remember thinking how odd that seemed to me that both black and white women seemed uninterested in the documentary that was just viewed. We wanted more and yet, Alice Walker is for the most part a fiction writer.

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Fast forward to me now back in grad school and how often she is referenced in Africana Women’s Studies, Gender Studies and Women’s Studies. It all makes sense. My question on how she connects her creativity  and her womanhood is in all of her work. I know realize how intuitively and effortlessly this is done in her work. I’m not certain of this, but I don’t think as she sat and wrote prose, short stories or poems that she was thinking on how she could contribute to feminist critical theory or black feminist theory. Nor could she have known how her personal expansion of feminism into “womanism” would take on entire subjects. Or perhaps she did… after all she is also an essayists and speaker.

Continue reading Alice Walker… the Scholar

Happy Birthday Gloria Naylor!

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Gloria Naylor wrote one of my favorite books, “The Women of Brewster Place”. I probably consider it one of my favorites because it is full of women characters, colorful characters I could draw monologues from.

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Naylor’s debut novel, The Women of Brewster Place, was published in 1982 and won the 1983 National Book Award in the category First Novel.[5] It was adapted as a 1989 television miniseries of the same name by Oprah Winfrey‘s Harpo Productions.

Naylor’s work is featured in such anthologies as Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction (ed. Terry McMillan, 1990), Calling the Wind: Twentieth-Century African-American Short Stories (ed. Clarence Major, 1992) and Daughters of Africa (ed. Margaret Busby, 1992).

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Thank you for such amazing literature! Happy birthday and we remember you!

Celebrating Zora!

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It’s not too late to join the annual festivities in the name of the literary icon, Zora Neale Hurston:

https://zorafestival.org/

What Are The ZORA!™ Festival’s Goals ?
  • To celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston
  • To celebrate the historic significance of Eatonville
  • To celebrate the cultural contributions which people of African ancestry have made to the United States and to world culture

Happy Birthday Zora Neal Hurston!

Re-membering an amazing writer, an iconic contributor to American literature,

Zora Neale Hurston

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Hurston’s works touched on the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman. Her novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades, but interest revived after author Alice Walker. Her most infamous work is, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.

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Happy Birthday Tananarive Due!

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I was introduced to her work during a book club I was a part of when I lived in Los Angeles years ago. The book was, “My Soul To Keep” –

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First of all, even with all my theatre and poetry literature knowledge, I did not know of any black women that wrote in this genre. So not only was the book AMAZING, I was intrigued that our storytelling entailed this! I credit Due with broadening my curiosity on this genre and re-thinking/re-reading Octavia Butler. I had only read Butler’s “Kindred” at the time but now I dug deeper into both of their works. Thank you Tananarive Due!

Do yourself a favor… make sure these titles are in your library…

My favorite?

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HANDS DOWN!!! Like Butler, Due is probably writing before her time (for us right on time) and later down the line her work will be considered for more television/film production. Until then, Happy Birthday and we honor you!

Loving moments from the book, “Letter To My Daughter”

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“In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons. The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.” Maya Angelou

“My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which still await down the road. I am strengthened by that knowledge.” Maya Angelou

When she was once being “timidly attacked” by a Hollywood producer who was interested in developing one of her short stories into a television show: “I promise you, you do not want me as your adversary because, once I feel myself under threat, I fight to win, and in that case I will forget that I am thirty years older than you, with a reputation for being passionate.” Maya Angelou

she continued in this chapter:

“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” Maya Angelou

“Racism still rages behind many smiling faces, and women are still spoken of in some circles, as conveniently pretty vessels. Macon, Georgia is down south, New York City is up south. Blithering ignorance can be found wherever you choose to live.” Maya Angelou

“Southern themes will range from generous and luscious love to cruel and bitter hate, but no one can ever claim that the South is petty or indifferent. [In the south] black people walk with an air which implies “when I walk in, they may like me or dislike me, but everybody knows I’m here.” Maya Angelou