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In For Colored Girls...., Shange envisions a model of community
that is exclusively Black and Female. It evolves as the individual
voices of the "Ladies" collaborate and interact, and the
voice of the individual merges into a collective expression of the
Black Woman. This community can be observed by outsiders, but Shange
imagines the Black female experience as a separate world. The performers
each represent a different shade and shape of "Colored Girls,"
creating in performance a celebration of the diversity of beauty
within the African-American race. More...
Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey
on October 18, 1948. In 1971 she changed her name to Ntozake Shange
which means "she who comes with her own things" and "she
who walks like a lion" in Xhosa, the Zulu language. Her father
was an Air Force surgeon and her mother was an educator and a psychiatric
social worker. The Williams were upper middle class African Americans
whose love of the arts contributed to an intellectually stimulating
childhood for Shange and her three siblings. Dizzy Gillespie, Miles
Davis, Chuck Berry, and W. E. B. Du Bois were among the frequent
guests at her parents' house.
In 1966 Shange enrolled at Barnard College and separated from her
husband, a law student. She attempted suicide several times. Nonetheless,
she graduated cum laude in American Studies in 1970 and entered
the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, where she
earned a master's degree in American Studies in 1973. More...