Tag Archives: grambling state university

Happy Birthday to playwright, Judi Ann Mason!

I dared to pursue my passion of studying theatre at Grambling State University. One of the first plays produced upon me entering was, “Livin’ Fat” by Judi Ann Mason. The theatre director so often bragged on how this play was written by his “class mate” and how she had written it while still attending Grambling. I didn’t think much of the playwright after the production until years later and I was living in Los Angeles.

One day I was watching the tv show, “Different World” and the writer credit for that episode read, Judi Ann Mason. It was then I found out she was more than a playwright born, raised and educated in the south. She was an award winning writer and a trailblazer for black writers in Hollywood.

judi ann masonpic

The play, “Livin Fat” was produced off Broadway in 1976 by the Negro Ensemble Company, and won a comedy award sponsored by the Kennedy Center and television producer Norman Lear. Lear then hired her as a writer for the series “Good Times” and she went on to write for “Sanford”, “A Different World”, “Beverly Hills 90210” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Judi Ann Mason, was one of the first female African-American sitcom writers in Hollywood and one of the youngest television writers of any race or either sex. As I am researching for my studies, re-discovering black women playwrights is imperative on my path. So today, we honor Judi Ann Mason! We remember you and thank you!

SHE CHRONICLES: “Crooked Room” by Dessie Sanders

Black Women’s Crooked Room Collection

Museum Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 10am-9pm
Friday – Saturday     10am – 6pm
Sunday –  Closed for praise and worship services
Monday –  Closed to the public

General Admission is free

Explore Black Women’s Crooked Room Collection your way.
Over 400 hundred years of creativity at your fingertips!
Download the BWCRC app for free.

No food and beverages allowed in the galleries, please.
Nada comida y refrescos permitidas en las galerias, por favor.

I think I’ve covered the masses.

Behold our collection of African females of The Middle Passage:
Mapping Women’s Lives
Much attention is given to: their vulnerabilities, survival and resistance
They were the revolt, like Hives.

Enjoy your visit.
But first, we want to make sure that
You understand the Crooked Room guidelines.


@ Times you will have to tilt or bend.
You will be placed in a crooked room and forced to sit in a crooked chair
And align with the distorted images of Black women on the wall.
Careful, don’t fall.

There are miles of galleries to explore
So, I hope you brought your walking shoes
All galleries are wheelchair friendly.

Black women don’t expect you to understand
How the Crooked Room has become grand
Give it time

Too much?

Come back today, tomorrow, or another day.
If not, stay
Spend time with the images that captures your eye.
Some of the collections will make you cry.


You may eat in the kitchen where we use to eat.
It’s only fair; you have to play by the rules.
Sorry, but once upon a time,
Black people didn’t have the right to choose.


Feel free to look but not touch
All works of art in the BWCRC are fragile.
Keep a safe distance; at least three feet.

Want to know more information about the Crooked Room?
Just ask any Black female
For their story, they’ll tale.

Again, welcome to the Crooked Room.


At age 15, Dr. Dessie Mae Sanders was living in a low income
neighborhood located in South Dallas with two parents and three siblings. Her life was overwhelmed by streets that were surrounded by violence, drugs and prostitution. While attending Lincoln High School and Humanities Magnet, in South Dallas, Dr. Sanders found her passion in The Fine and Performing Arts. She was a strong participant and Alto Choir Leader of the Marine F. Bailey Concert Choir, 1985 – 1988, under the Direction of Evelyn B. Hamilton, and Theater, under the Direction of Dr. Louie H. White.

Today, Dr. Sanders is an outspoken, accomplished author, Educator, Playwright, and
Poet. She is the CEO & Founder of HBCU Connection and The Michelle Obama
International Academy of Arts and Humanities. She has an honorary Doctorate in
Theocentric Humanities, and is currently a Doctoral Candidate, (ABD)-Ph.D. in
Literature, at the University of Texas at Dallas. Also, has a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies, Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Grambling State University. Dr. Sanders is a professor of African American Identity and Womanism. As a scholar,her research re-imagines the religious nature within Africa and African-American women, the middle passage, antebellum slavery, and popular culture through stories told.

Sanders authored two books: Speechifying: This is the True Womanist Story, Paperback –August 7, 2013; and Bitter Black Female is an Over-Exaggerated SubCategory,
Paperback – July 20, 2015. Her earlier works include Fatbacks & Collard
Greens. A gospel play about Black family life coupled with the Black church. The play was critiqued in, Sandra M. Mayo’s and Elvin Holt’s. Stages of Struggle and
Celebration: A Production History of Black Theater in Theater, 2016. Fatbacks &
Collard Greens is now on (Video) with the Black Academy of Arts & Letters, GRIOT
Productions Season 37, at the University of North Texas Library. Her recent poem “59
Mirror Stage” was published by Eber & Wein Publishing, September 26, 2016. It was
featured at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Jazz Night, June 10, 2015.

Not Worth the Degree?

“There has to be more than what you see.”

This is what I say to friends that tell me that if they could do it over again they would not go to college.  A majority of them have found jobs outside of the fields they studied and made successful careers in them.  A few of them say for the work they are doing now, they only needed the on the job training offered so they are paying student loans “for nothing”.

“There has to be more you got from college.”

The majority of my friends from undergraduate and graduate school are from the Humanities and Social Science fields.  According to the National Center of Education Statistics, on average the unemployment rate for those fields have always been a steady 9.6%, the highest of any field of college study.  My friends divide between specific studies in theatre/speech communication, and the fields of psychology and criminal justice.  I look at how much these fields have grown with cultural and societal changes and clearly understand the difficulty in finding work.   I myself have had to find other fields of employment for financial support.  But would I say my degree wasn’t worth it?

I studied for my undergraduate degree at Grambling State University and chose to major in Theatre.  I had been into community theatre and the arts since I was a young child and had been writing poetry at a young age.  I remember during my senior year in high school, a friend who graduated a year ahead of me, and had the same reverence for theatre that I had, describe her displeasure she had with first year of college at a predominately white college.  She told me that the production season was booked with white productions and her confidence at being considered for any of the lead roles was dismal.  She “created” a love for costume design.  That gave me a different perspective on how to choose where I would go for college.  Being that I wanted to go into theatre, I applied to Pace University in New York and to Grambling State University (GSU) in Louisiana and was accepted to both.  I chose GSU.  “The Place Where Everybody is Somebody.”


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