The acclaimed playwright, novelist, and poet Ntozake Shange ’70 helped the Africana Studies program mark its 20th anniversary February 14 and 15, attending a conference devoted to celebrating Shange’s work and her place in American writing.
The event kicked off Thursday afternoon, with Shange joining students from Barnard’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) who shared reflections and poetry readings in an intimate discussion with Shange. The evening featured a student performance of excerpts from Shange’s work, including the iconic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. The performance was produced by BCRW Alumnae Fellow Ebonie Smith ’07, who also joined acclaimed dance artist Dianne McIntyre in a conversation about Shange’s legacy.
Friday, Africana Studies and the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies held a conference, The Worlds of Shange, devoted to the writer’s legacy. Featured speakers included Jennifer DeVere Brody, professor of dance and theatre performance at Stanford University and author of Punctuation: Art, Politics and Play; Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English and comparative literature and African-American studies at Columbia University and author of If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday; Alexis Pauline Gumbs ’04, independent scholar, poet, activist, and founder of Mobile Homecoming; and Vanessa K. Valdés, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at City College of New York.