Sonia Sanchez


Sonia Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 9, 1934,

Sanchez was only a year old, when her mother died and she was sent to live with her grandmother. She lived with family and friends until she moved to Harlem in 1943 to live with her father, her sister, and her stepmother. She received a B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College in 1955, where she had also taken several creative writing courses. Sanchez completed postgraduate work at New York University where she studied poetry with Louise Bogan. In 1972, she joined the Nation of Islam, but left the organization after three years in 1975 because her views on women's rights conflicted with theirs. She has three children and ten grandchildren.

Sanchez has taught as a professor at eight universities and has lectured at over 500 college campuses across the US, including Howard University. She advocated the introduction of Black Studies courses in California. Sanchez was the first to create and teach a course based on Black Women and literature in the United States. Sanchez was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University where she began working in 1977, where she held the Laura Carnell chair until her retirement in 1999. She is currently a poet-in-residence at Temple University. She has read her poetry in Africa, the Caribbean, China, Australia, Europe, Nicaragua, Canada, and Cuba. Sanchez has also appeared on Bill Cosby's CBS show in the 1990s.

Sanchez is a member of the Plowshares, the Brandywine Peace Community and MADRE. She also supports MOMS in Alabama and the National Black United Front. Sanchez was a very influential part of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Arts Movement. Sanchez was an advocate for the people. She was a member of CORE (Congress for Racial Equality), where she met Malcolm X. She wrote many plays and books that had to do with the struggles and lives of Black America. Sanchez has edited two anthologies on Black literature, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans and 360° of Blackness Coming at You.

Sanchez is also known for her innovative melding of musical formats - like the blues - and traditional poetic formats like haiku and tanka. She also tends to use incorrect spelling to get her point across.

In 1969, Sanchez was awarded the P.E.N. Writing Award. She was awarded the National Education Association Award 1977-1988. She also won the National Academy and Arts Award and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Award in 1978-1979. In 1985, she was awarded the American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades. She has also been awarded the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and the Peace and Freedom Award from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

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