Her names is pronounced: EN-toh-ZAH-kee SHAHNG-gay;
She lived October 18, 1948 – October 27, 2018.
She was a Black feminist author. She was born Paulette Linda Williams in Trenton, New Jersey.
When her family moved St. Louis and she attended a school for gifted children, Shange faced overt racism and harassment at school. These experience would influence her works.
Shange in college succumbed to depression and attempted suicide. A survivor, she reclaimed and renamed herself. In Zulu, Ntozake means “she who comes with her own things” and Shange means “who walks like a lion”.
Shange’s choreopoem “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” was the beautiful and soul stirring read for my young curious mind. I was only a kid when I first read and saw the play, but I witnessed it freeing and empowering the Black women in my circle.
“for alla the sorries.
I’m gonna tack a sign to my door
leave a message by the phone
‘if you called
to say your sorry
I don’t use em anymore’”—Lady In Red
Black Women did not tolerate excuses or vowed to never set themselves up for hurt— at least in the immediate moments of hearing the Lady in Red.
Shange is credited as a founding poet of the Nuyorican Poets Café. In 2018, that was part of my New York adventure: an uber ride to the lower east side to witness a poetry slam.
I celebrate Shange along with Maya Angelou, Terri MacMillon, and Toni Morrison this Women History Month for their writing that told the diverse stories of Black women.
I love these authors like sweet potato pie!