playwright, actor, director, singer, and dancer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of Gloria Diaz Bagneris and Lawrence Bagneris Sr. Bagneris's mother was a housewife and deeply religious woman who “quietly outclassed most people,” and his father was a playful, creative man, a World War II veteran, and lifelong postal clerk. Bagneris grew up in the tightly knit, predominantly Creole Seventh Ward to a family of free people of color that had been in New Orleans since 1750 From the age of six he had a knack for winning popular dance contests and during christenings and jazz funerals he learned more traditional music and dance By the mid 1960s the once beautiful tree lined neighborhood in which he was raised fell victim to the U S government s program of urban renewal known colloquially as Negro removal A freeway overpass was ...
Felicia A. Chenier
black theater organizer, writer, director, folklorist, chorographer, and educator, was born in Houston, Texas, the only daughter of Gerthyl Rae and Harvey G. Dickerson, an army officer. As a military child Dickerson traveled extensively with her parents and brother, Harvey. After graduating high school in Syracuse, New York, Dickerson studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C. While there she studied theater and was mentored by noted educator and writer Owen Dodson, who was then the Drama Department chair. Noteworthy of her experiences at Howard is her discovery of writings by Zora Neale Hurston. After receiving a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) from Howard in 1966, Dickerson received a master of fine arts (MFA) from Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, in 1968 During the same year she returned to Howard as an assistant professor of drama and staged her directorial ...
Elaine E. Thompson
choreographer, dance studio owner, and journalist, was born William Joseph Pierce in Purcellville, Virginia, the only child of Dennis Pierce and Nellie Shorter, who spent their childhoods enslaved and later became truck farmers. After attending the public schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, Pierce attended two colleges, Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Howard University in Washington, D.C. During World War I he served with the Eighth Illinois Regiment in the United States Army.
Pierce was a journalist, an often overlooked aspect of his life and work. He was a reporter and editor for the Chicago Defender, the (Washington, D.C.) Dispatcher, and the Washington Eagle adding to the stature of these newspapers in the area of arts coverage But Pierce s heart belonged to show business He made his dancing debut in the early 1920s at the Pekin Theater in Chicago During ...
author, dancer, and activist, was born Carlene Hatcher in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Lillian Cook and John Hatcher, international representatives of the United Automobile Workers-Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO). By age twelve she was already exhibiting an interest in creative writing, completing several poems while attending public schools in Detroit. After her high school graduation, she attended Sarah Lawrence College, a coeducational liberal arts school outside New York City.
While attending Sarah Lawrence she decided to pursue dance at the prestigious Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, one of the nation's oldest dance schools. From 1955 to 1963 Polite enjoyed a career as a professional dancer, appearing on stage with the Concert Dance Theatre of New York City from 1955 to 1959, the Vanguard Playhouse in Detroit from 1960 to 1962 and as a dancer and organizer at the Equity Theater in Detroit ...
Ronna C. Johnson
Carlene Hatcher Polite is among the important artists to emerge from the “second renaissance” of African American culture in the 1960s and 1970s. The author of two experimental novels, The Flagellants (1966) and Sister X and the Victims of Foul Play (1975), Polite forged a unique prose style that helped establish innovative modes popularized by later writers. In addition to writing, her widespread career included professional dance training, performance, and instruction; political organizing; civil rights activism; and academic appointments. Born in Detroit to John and Lillian (Cook) Hatcher, international representatives of UAW-CIO, Polite attended Sarah Lawrence College and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. From 1955 to 1963, she pursued a career as a professional dancer. Polite performed with the Concert Dance Theater of New York City (1955–1959) and the Detroit Equity Theatre and Vanguard Playhouse (1960–1962 and taught ...
Angela R. Sidman
painter, dancer, playwright, and set designer, was born in White City, Kentucky, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. John Robinson, a coal miner uncle with an interest in drawing and painting, encouraged young Sebree's artistic talents. “Robinson tutored Charles in drawing by having him sketch pictures with a stick in the soil and taught him how to make little figures of men out of mud and twigs” (Marshall, 3). In 1924, when Sebree was ten years old, he and his mother joined the flood of African Americans moving north in the Great Migration. They settled in Chicago, where the preadolescent Sebree soon launched himself into the city's thriving cultural scene.
An elementary school teacher jumpstarted Sebree s career when she showed his artwork to members of the University of Chicago s Renaissance Society The group was impressed enough with the fourteen year ...