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NTOZAKE SHANGE

  • The Birth of Shange

    The Birth of Shange
    Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey to Paul (an air force surgeon)and Eloise Williams (a social worker). She was the oldest of four children.
  • Family Relocation to Missouri

    Family Relocation to Missouri
    The Williams family moved to St. Louis, Missouri when Shange was five years old. She was one of the first black children to integrate into an all-white public school.
  • Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun appears on Broadway

    Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun appears on Broadway
    A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by an African American woman to appear on Broadway. This production paved the way for black women like Shange to continue the trend of African American stories being told on Broadway. Following "A Raisin in the Sun," Shange's play "colored girls" was the second play by an African American woman to appear on Broadway.
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    Attended Morrison High School

    The William's family moved to Lawrenceville, New Jersey where Shange would attend the local high school. She began to write poems during this time, focusing on black themes. The quality of her work was praised, but the content was heavily criticized.
  • Black Arts Movement

    Black Arts Movement
    The Black Arts Movement emerged in 1965. Cultural Nationalists. called for the creation of poetry, novels, visual arts, and theater to reflect pride in black history and culture. This was an affirmation of the autonomy of black artists to create art for black people as a means to awaken consciousness and achieve liberation. Shange was a teenager during this time, but was still involved in the cause. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/black-arts-movement-1965-1975/
  • Malcom X's Assassination

    Malcom X's Assassination
    Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. His supporters continued his movement in a variety of different ways. One of the ways was by creating the Black Arts Movement, a movement that Shange was heavily involved and inspired by. His death proved to be the catalyst for the movement to be pushed into motion. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/x-malcolm-1925-1965/
  • Failed Marriage with First Husband

    Failed Marriage with First Husband
    Shange married a law student in her first year at Barnard College. However, the marriage did not last past a semester. Shange attempted suicide multiple times after the relationship ended. Her experiences during this time helped influenced her most popular work: for colored girls who have considered suicide.
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    Undergraduate Education at Barnard College

    Shange attended Barnard College for her undergraduate degree. She majored in American Studies and graduated in the subject with honors. Her college years were not pleasant times due to the struggles of racism, segregation, and a failed marriage. However, she credited this period in her life as inspiration for her works.
  • Last Poets

    Last Poets
    The Last Poets are several groups of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s African-American civil rights movement's black nationalism. They gave advice and provided inspiration to Shange during her college years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Poets
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    Graduate Studies at University of Southern California

    Shange attended USC in Los Angeles for her graduate studies. She earned her master's degree in American Studies.
  • Name Change from Paulette to Ntozake

    Name Change from Paulette to Ntozake
    Shange adopted her Zulu name during her graduate studies. She began going by the name Ntozake Shange instead of Paulette Williams. Ntozake translates to "she who comes with her own things" and Shange translates as "one who walks with lions." Her new moniker was established because she felt a deeper connection to her roots this way. She established herself as one who goes against the grain and doesn't live to make other people comfortable.
  • for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf

    for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf
    Ntozake Shange's first work and most acclaimed theater piece. It consists of a series of poetic monologues to be accompanied by dance movements and music, a form Shange coined as the choreopoem. for colored girls... tells the stories of seven women who have suffered oppression in a racist and sexist society." Awards: Obie Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and AUDELCO Award https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Colored_Girls_Who_Have_Considered_Suicide_/_When_the_Rainbow_Is_Enuf
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    Playwriting

    Shange wrote plays from 1975 to 1994 (approximately 14). Some of her works not previously mentioned included: Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon (1977), Black and White Two Dimensional Planes (1979), Three for a Full Moon (1982), and From Okra to Greens/A Different Kinda Love Story (1983).
  • New York City!

    New York City!
    Shange relocated to New York City after graduating with her master's degree. She became a founding poet at the Nuyorican Poets Café and joined Malifu Osumare's dance company during this time.
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    Poetry Writing

    Shange wrote poetry during her early years in elementary and high school, but she didn't get officially published until 1976. Some of her works note previously mentioned included: Natural Disasters and Other Festive Occasions (1977), A Photograph: Lovers in Motion: A Drama (S. French, 1977), Three Pieces (St. Martin's Press, 1992), "With No Immediate Cause," and "People of Watts" (first published November 1993 in VIBE Magazine). She wrote approximately 20 published works.
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    Novels

    Shange wrote novels for adults from 1976 to 2010. Some of her works not previously mentioned included: The Black Book (1986, with Robert Mapplethorpe), Liliane (1994), and Some Sing, Some Cry (2010) (with Ifa Bayeza). She wrote approximately 6 novels.
  • Failed Marriage with Second Husband

    Failed Marriage with Second Husband
    Shange married artist McArthur Binion in 1977. However, the marriage fell apart and ended in divorce. Her only child, Savannah, was born during this time. It is unclear when the couple divorced.
  • Tony Award Nomination

    Tony Award Nomination
    For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf was nominated for the 31st Tony Awards. The production was nominated in the category: Best Play. It did not win, but is considered a great achievement for Shange.
  • Grammy Award Nomination

    Grammy Award Nomination
    Shange was nominated for a Grammy in 1977, and was therefore a part of the 20th Annual Grammy Awards. She was nominated in the category of: "Best Spoken Word Recording." for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf was considered an album during the award ceremony.
  • Emmy Award Nomination

    Emmy Award Nomination
    for colored girls who considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1977. The production did not win, but the nomination raised awareness of Shange's work.
  • nappy edges

    nappy edges
    nappy edges is a collection of poetry and prose poetry. The poems, which vary in voice and style, explore themes of love, racism, sexism, and loneliness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nappy_edges
  • spell #7

    spell #7
    spell #7: geechee jibara quik magic trance manual for technologically stressed third world people - the story is about a group of black friends who are actors, musicians, and performers. In a series of dreamlike vignettes and poetic monologues, they commiserate about the difficulties they face as black artists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spell_No._7#Critical_reception
  • The AIDS Movement

    The AIDS Movement
    The AIDS Movement came into culmination during the 1980s. During this time period, the Black Arts Movement was less in the spotlight. Shange's works were less talked about, and less presented on the stage.
  • Daughter's Birth

    Daughter's Birth
    Savannah Thulani-Eloisa Shange-Binio was born in 1981. She was the only child Shange birthed.
  • Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo

    Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo
    Shange's first full-length novel: Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo is the story of three sisters and their mother from Charleston, South Carolina. Sassafrass is trying to weave a life out of her work, her man, her memories and dreams. Cypress leaves home to find new ways of moving in the world. Indigo lives in poetry and has the supreme gift of seeing the obvious magic of the world. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004A90E58/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1
  • Betsey Brown

    Betsey Brown
    Betsey Brown is the story of an adolescent African-American girl growing up in 1959 St. Louis, Missouri, who is part of the first generation of students to be integrated in the public school system. She navigates common adolescent issues such as family dynamics, first love, and identity questions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsey_Brown
  • Liliane: Resurrection of The Daughter

    Liliane: Resurrection of The Daughter
    The novel tells the coming-of-age story of a young Black woman, Liliane Parnell, through the numerous voices of childhood friends, family, lovers, acquaintances, conversations between Liliane and her psychoanalyst, and Liliane herself. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliane_(novel)
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    Children's Books

    Shange wrote books for children from 1997 to 2009. There are a total of 5 published books. Some works not previously mentioned include: Coretta Scott (2009) and Ellington Was Not a Street (2003).
  • If i can cook / you know god can

    If i can cook / you know god can
    The piece is both memoir and cookbook. Short essays precede recipes written in personal vernacular, and these recipes cover locations such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_i_can_cook_/_you_know_god_can
  • Float Like a Butterfly

    Float Like a Butterfly
    Float Like a Butterfly: Muhammad Ali, the Man Who Could Float Like a Butterfly and Sting Like a Bee was a children's book written by Shange. "In her own words, Shange shows us Ali and his life, from his childhood in the segregated South, to his meteoric rise in boxing to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World." https://www.abebooks.com/first-edition/Muhammad-Ali-Man-Who-Float-Butterfly/7015864228/bd
  • Daddy Says

    Daddy Says
    Annie Sharon and Lucie-Marie have been raised by their loving but remote father, Tie-Down, since their mother, Twanda's death. The girls feel their mother's absence terribly. Now Tie-Down has started dating Cassie, and the girls resent her intrusion into their lives. But after a close call at the rodeo, it is Cassie who finally brings this family together https://www.amazon.com/Daddy-Says-Ntozake-Shange/dp/0689830815
  • The Beginning of Her Health Decline

    The Beginning of Her Health Decline
    In 2004, it was confirmed that Shange suffered from several strokes throughout the year. This marked the beginning of Shange's decline in health. She began to lose feeling in her arms and hands, eventually losing the ability to write at all. She utilized assisted voice-to-text technology to continue writing.
  • The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family

    The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family
    The book depicts the various aspects of everyday urban African-American life through poetic narrative. Through poetic narrative and accompanying photographs, the book deals with various themes such as religion, identity, and representation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sweet_Breath_of_Life
  • Induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame

    Induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame
    Shange was recognized for her work as an author and activist in 2012. She lived in St. Louis during her elementary years, and was therefore inducted in the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
  • Proclamation of Ntozake Shange Day

    Proclamation of Ntozake Shange Day
    Congressman Charles Rangel assigned an official day out of the year to honor and recognize Ntozake Shange in Manhattan, New York during the year 2014. This day landed on June 14.
  • The Death of Shange

    The Death of Shange
    Died at an assisted-living community in Bowie, Maryland at the age of 70. She suffered from a neurological disorder (CIDP) and most likely died of a stroke.