Her Story: Ntozake Shange

Celebrating Ntozake Shange, visionary playwright, Black feminist, and fighter for racial justice. Ntozake Shange was a fierce advocate that addressed issues related to race and Black power in much of her work. 

Born as Paulette Williams on October 18, 1948, in Trenton, New Jersey.  Her family moved from Jersey to St. Louis in the 50s. Age 8 was a turning point in her life. She was bussed to an all white school where she endured racists attacks and daily racism. 

In the 70’s Shange embraced her Black roots and came to terms with her depression. She choose a Zulu name as a way to claim her power. Her first name, Ntozake, means “she who comes with her own things”. Her last name, Shange, means “who walks like a lion.” 

Shange is best known for her Obie Award-winning musical play, ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf’. Premiereing in 1976, it told the story of seven women and their experiences with racism and sexism. While ‘For Colored Girls’ is Shange’s most famous work, she has written multiple plays, novels, poems, and children’s books.

Among the many awards that Shange has received are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, a Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize.  

Ntozake Shange was a truth telling, soul healing, unapologetic Black Feminist literary queen. She was pure Black girl magic and She Made History. 

“rise up fallen fighters
unfetter the stars
dance with the universe
& make it ours”

-Ntozake Shange

Links for Learning:

Books by Ntozake Shange – Goodreads


Ntozake Shange – Wikipedia


About The Author


Mother, Photographer, Wisecracker.... not necessarily in that order.

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