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Cynthia Hawkins

ceramist, sculptor, filmmaker, and cofounder (with her husband, James Hatch) of the Hatch‐Billops Collection, an archive of African American cultural history, was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucius Billops, a cook and merchant seaman, and Alma Gilmore, a dressmaker, maid, and aircraft assembly worker. Billops graduated from Catholic Girls High School in 1952, and in 1954 she began her studies at the University of Southern California. She majored in occupational therapy, which included drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. She transferred to Los Angeles State College in 1956 after she became pregnant, and then she changed her major to special education. Billops worked during the day as a bank bookkeeper and maintained a full academic workload in the evening. At the end of 1956 her daughter, Christa, was born, and Billops put her up for adoption. This was an experience she would explore in her 1992 ...

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Joshunda Sanders

was born in Harlem to Richard Hill, of North Carolina, and Mae De Veaux, who had immigrated from the Caribbean. De Veaux is the second-oldest of eight children and has said on her personal website that she was drawn to the world of books and words to “reimagine the world her mother understood” only as “you got three strikes against you. You poor, you black and you female.”

During the Black Arts Movement and other social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, De Veaux found herself inspired to create a different reality on the page. She worked as an assistant instructor in English for the New York Urban League between 1969 and 1971.

Under the guidance of the writer Fred Hudson, who was leading the writing workshop at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in Harlem, she won first place in a 1972 national black fiction writer s ...