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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 ...


Sheila Hassell Hughes

Tony Award winner, and leading African American playwright of the 1970s. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1935, to working-class parents, Joseph A. Walker began his theatrical career in college with acting roles in several student productions at Howard University. He received his BA in 1956 and went on to begin graduate work in philosophy and serve a term in the U.S. Air Force before deciding to pursue a career in theater.

Like the young protagonist, Jeff, in his most famous play, The River Niger, Walker began military service as a navigation student but found himself too distracted by poetic impulses to continue. Rather than drop out altogether like his fictional creation, however, Walker persevered in the corps, becoming a first lieutenant and second-in-command of his squadron before his discharge in 1960. Evidently he emerged even more determined to write.

With an MFA from Catholic University ...