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Opalanga D. Pugh

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Information about Opalanga D. Pugh

Profile image of Opalanga D. Pugh

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Professional Storyteller

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Lentils (Curried)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
Stories Are Not Just Meant To Make Us Smile. Our Very Lives Depend On It.

Birthplace

Born:
10/31/1952
Birth Location:
Denver, Colorado

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Professional Storyteller

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Lentils (Curried)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
Stories Are Not Just Meant To Make Us Smile. Our Very Lives Depend On It.

Birthplace

Born:
10/31/1952
Birth Location:
Denver
See how Opalanga D. Pugh is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Professional storyteller Opalanga D. Pugh was born on October 31, 1952, in Denver, Colorado, to Mary Edmonson and John Harris. She also grew up in Denver. In 1975, Pugh received her B.S. degree in communication studies from the University of Wisconsin. Her senior year, as an undergraduate student, she studied at the Imo University of Lagos in Nigeria. Her more extensive informal education includes studying under the instruction of traditional griots in the Gambia, and workshops with African dance choreographer Baba Chuck Davis; African shamans Malidoma and Sobonfu Some; futurist Jean Houston; and motivational speaker Les Brown. Pugh has immersed herself and her work in the realm of communication—including (but not limited to) public relations, group facilitation, mental health, and outdoor education.

Pugh spent an extensive amount of time working, traveling and studying in nine West African countries including the Gambia and Nigeria. While she was there, her studies served as primary sources of learning African oral tradition. Since 1986, she has been a professional storyteller. In addition to that, she has done various keynote addresses as well as facilitated workshops and programs. To date, Pugh has made presentations at thousands of schools in thirty-seven states across the country and over 500 corporations and nonprofit organizations. Her work has taken her across the world. She has shared and collected stories, and hosted events and ceremonies in the United States, Canada, Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

In 1995, Denver’s Westword Magazine named Pugh “Best Storyteller.” She also received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts that year. The following year, she was featured as an “African American Living Legend” by NBC-TV. She has been featured in the following publications and media outlets: Women Who Run with the Wolves, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and on Black Entertainment Television (BET). Pugh was awarded the Urban Spectrum Newspaper “One Who Makes A Difference” Award. She also received the Ambassador of Peace Award from The Conflict Center in Denver.

Other accomplishments include her work with the international relief organization, CARE, to coordinate and present components of their global conference for over 60 country directors surrounding the theme of gender equity and diversity. Pugh was also instrumental in assisting the grieving Columbine High School staff and students through ‘story intervention’ after the tragic shooting in 1999.

Opalanga D. Pugh was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 3, 2008.

Ms. Pugh passed away on June 5, 2010.

See how Opalanga D. Pugh is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Opalanga D. Pugh's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her mother's upbringing and education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her mother's creativity
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal grandmother's personality, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her maternal great-grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal grandmother's personality, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her mother's experiences in the medical field
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal great-grandmother's appearance
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Opalnaga D. Pugh describes her likeness to her maternal family members
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her paternal family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her stepfather's parents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her step-grandfather's experiences in the segregated South
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her step-grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her stepfather's career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her brothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers Ebert Elementary School in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her childhood in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her early religious experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls the integration of the Denver Public Schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her involvement in the Black Power movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers a Black Power march in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her parents' response to the Black Power march
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her community in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers the start of her adolescence
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her campaign for student council secretary
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early aspirations, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her junior high school math teacher
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early aspirations, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her time at the Colorado Outward Bound School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers matriculating at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers living in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her decision to study abroad in Nigeria
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her arrival in Lagos, Nigeria
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her educational experiences at the University of Lagos in Nigeria
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers Nigerians' misconceptions about African American women
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her Yoruba naming ceremony
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the Yoruba language
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her experiences in Lagos, Nigeria
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her departure from Lagos, Nigeria
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her move to Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls working on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers meeting Eldridge Cleaver
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her work at Salvation Army Booth Memorial Home in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her time in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her introduction to professional storytelling
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh shares a parable about gratitude
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about fable singing
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about facilitating broom jumping ceremonies
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about officiating end of life ceremonies
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her ceremonial instruments
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about the importance of godparents
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about mentoring her nephew
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about roots and wings ceremonies
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her career as a storyteller
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her experience with cancer, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her experience with cancer, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her interest in sharing her life story
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her advice to future generations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh plays the mbira
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh narrates her photographs