Berea College welcomes the public and campus community to its 3 p.m. convocation on Thursday, Sept. 21, featuring award-winning poet, playwright, performer, novelist, and educator Ntozake Shange. In her presentation, Wild Beauty, Shange will explore the many contradictions people of color confront in their daily lives – emotionally, psychologically, and politically. Through music and language, Shange approaches her material with delicacy and brutal honesty, leaving the audience with a textured mosaic of what it means and how it feels to be a 21st century colored person who speaks English. This convocation is co-sponsored with Theatre and will held in Phelps Stokes Chapel.

Shange, born Paulette L. Williams in Trenton, N.J. in 1948, has written 15 plays, six novels and numerous poems. Her most famous work is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, a unique blend of poetry, music, dance, and drama that took the theatre world by storm in 1975, and for which she was nominated for Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards and received countless other awards.

Shange earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, both in American Studies. She taught humanities, women’s studies and Afro-American studies at California colleges from 1972 to 1975.

It was while earning her master’s degree that she took her African name, which means “she who comes with her own things” and she “who walks like a lion.” Since then, her career has drawn heavily on her experiences of being a black female in America. Her individual poems, essays and short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including The Black ScholarYardbirdMs.EssenceThe Chicago Tribune, and VIBE.

The convocation events, which are provided to both the campus and public communities, are a significant part of a student’s educational experience at Berea College. For the schedule of all convocations this academic year, visit All convocations are free and open to the public.

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