The death of pioneering writer Ntozake Shange on Saturday (October 27) prompted public remembrances from Black women who honored the ways Shange uplifted them throughout her career. Seven Black women who wrote acclaimed plays pay tribute to Shange and her first choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” in interviews published by The New York Times today (November 1).
Check out these key quotes, then read all seven reflections at NYTimes.com:
“[‘For Colored Girls] was a phenomenon at the time, and I frankly don’t believe that any of us would be here without Zake—not just Black artists and not just women…. African-American women, we get punished for running our mouth. If I run my mouth too much, I’m going to pay for it. And what I loved about Zake was, she didn’t care. She ran her mouth.” —Anna Deveare Smith (“Notes From the Field”)
“Poetry onstage was an old thing, but she was one of the people who brought it into the now. It sounded like people you knew, which is beautiful, but like Shakespeare, too. ‘Bein’ alive and bein’ a woman and bein’ colored is a metaphysical dilemma I haven’t conquered yet’: Hello. That’s very alive, bristling with intellect and passion. And beautiful architecture.” —Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”)
“She very much encouraged Black women to appreciate the fullness of themselves and to speak from their perspectives, not trying to fit into anyone else’s structure. What now you’re seeing is a flourishment of Black women and women of color just writing how they really want to write. Because I think we’re very much children of her.” —Ngozi Anyanwu (“Good Grief”)