- Jessica Smedley
poet, novelist, and screenplay writer, was born in Port Huron, Michigan, the oldest of the five children of Edward Lewis McMillan, a sanitation worker, and Madeline Washington (Tillman) McMillan, a factory and domestic worker. The family struggled financially but Madeline instilled a strong sense of responsibility in her young children. Terry McMillan took her first paying job at sixteen, shelving books at the local library for $1.25 an hour. As a child the only book in her home had been the Bible, but McMillan quickly became fascinated by the literary world, especially African American fiction.
As soon as she finished high school McMillan moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a typist during the day and attended evening classes at Los Angeles City College She later transferred to the University of California at Berkeley where she earned a BA in Journalism wrote for the ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.