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Wendi Berman

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 ...


Margaret Wade-Lewis

the first African American female linguist, early theorist in Pidgin and Creole linguistics, and educator, was born Beryl Isadore Loftman in Black River, Jamaica, West Indies. Her mother, Eliza Isadore Smith Loftman, was a teacher, and her father, James Henry Loftman, was an educator who became an inspector of schools. Because she was of the middle class, Beryl Loftman was expected to converse in Standard Jamaican English. Nevertheless, she valued the rhythm, music, and style of Creole: “Though I was forbidden to speak Jamaican Creole in the home during my childhood, my use of Standard Jamaican English was restricted to the earshot of my parents, teachers. … With my playmates, brothers and sisters, household help, and the country folk, I conversed always in Creole” (Bailey, “Creole Languages,” 3).

Loftman was the eldest of six children and she and her siblings Lucille Myrtle Kenneth Seymour and Howard who died ...


Robyn McGee

His father, the late Trevor George Smith, was a businessman and his mother, Geraldine Green, a homemaker. Both were immigrants from Jamaica. Smith has one brother, Paul, and four children.

Around 1989 Smith was given the moniker “Busta Rhymes” by fellow rapper Chuck D of the seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy. The original George “Buster” Rhymes was an NFL running back known for his charismatic, freewheeling style.

Busta Rhymes attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical School in Brooklyn with other iconic rappers, Sean Carter, aka Jay Z; Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G; Earl Simmons, aka D.M.X.; and Sean Combs later known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy As teenagers Rhymes and Jay Z famously held a speed rapping battle in the high school cafeteria which was won by Jay Z After living in Liverpool England for a short time Rhymes returned to New York ...


Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper

was born Léonie Coicou in Pétionville, Haiti, on 10 April 1891, to poet and writer Massillon Coicou and Lisebonne Joseph. While her father served as a diplomat, she studied in France. There, she began her acting career with the Théâtre de Cluny in Paris, playing the role of “Petit Sim” in her father’s play Liberté in 1904. Four years after Coicou’s return to Port-au-Prince, on the night of 14 March 1908, her father and his two brothers, avid supporters of Anténor Firmin, were accused of plotting the overthrow of then US-backed President Nord Alexis and assassinated along with more than a dozen friends. That same year, in response to a defamatory article written about her deceased father, Coicou, then only eighteen years old, entered public life by defending his legacy in the influential Haitian newspaper of the epoch, L’impartial. She married Justin Madiou on 25 April ...


Rebeca L. Hey-Colón

was born on 20 August 1936 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Her mother, Josefa Quiles, was a seamstress, and her father, Teodoro Colón, a dry goods merchant. Both were originally from Barrio Obrero, a working-class neighborhood in Santurce. They divorced when Colón was still young. Her mother then moved back to Barrio Obrero, to the Las Casas housing project, bringing her children with her.

Colón attended public schools in Santurce and was first exposed to theater at the Román Baldorioty de Castro School. She acted in school plays staged by students from the University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR’s) burgeoning theater program, directed by Leopoldo Santiago Lavandero. She debuted in the play La azotea The Rooftop Impressed with her innate talent the play s director Marcos Colón introduced her to Santiago Lavandero Lavandero invited her to audit theater courses at the university as well as participate in their theatrical ventures Colón ...


Takkara Keosha Brunson

was born in Santiago de Cuba, in the eastern region of Cuba. The daughter of Leocadia Almanza and Germán Cosme, she was orphaned at a young age and eventually adopted by a wealthy Santiago family, who moved her to the capital city of Havana. Cosme began her study of music and piano theory at the Municipal School of Music. She later studied elocution and declamation at the Academy of Declamation of the Municipal Conservatory.

Cosme realized her passion for reciting poetry at a young age. Initially, she followed in the tradition of prominent declamation performers from Europe and Latin America, who performed works by white poets. However, upon reading the poetry collections Motivos de son (1930) and Sóngoro Cosóngo (1931) by the famous Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén, she recognized her true calling as a performer. She began to recite Afro-Antillean poetry, as well as poesía negra ...


Paulette A. Ramsay

was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, on 12 February 1942 to Gerardo Fulleda Abreu and Edicta León Ferrer. He was raised and educated in his hometown before moving to Havana to pursue a degree in history at the University of Havana. Drama school followed his graduation as he had a deep interest in producing theatrical works. He received his training as a playwright at the Seminario de Dramaturgia del CNC between 1951 and 1964; there, he was taught by well-known Cubans such as Alejo Carpentier and Roberto Fernandez Retamar. He writes for both adults and children, and many of his plays have been performed on stage by distinguished theater groups in Cuba. Others have been adapted for radio and local television, while Plácido was adapted to the large screen in 1982 by Sergio Giral, the renowned film director.

Fulleda has published more than twelve plays for which he ...