Ntozake: “she who comes with her own things”
Shange: “who walks like a lion”
Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams into an upper middle-class African-American family. Her father was an Air Force surgeon and her mother a psychiatric social worker. Cultural icons like Dizzie Gillepsie, Miles Davis and W.E.B. DuBois were regular guests in the Williams home. Shange attended Barnard College and UCLA, earning both a bachelors and master degree in American Studies. Shange’s college years were difficult, however, frustrated and hurt after separating from her first husband, she attempted suicide several times before focusing her rage against the limitations society imposes on black women. While earning a master’s degree, she reaffirmed her personal strength based on a self-determined identity and took her African name, which means “she who comes with her own things” and she “who walks like a lion.” Since then she has sustained a triple career as an educator, a performer/director, and a writer whose work draws heavily on her experiences of being a black female in America.
Donald S. Sutton,
Global Artists Management of NY, Inc.
P.O. Box 8230, Farley Station
New York, NY 10116
SpeakOut – the Institute for Democratic Education and Culture
PO Box 22748
Oakland, CA 94609