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Pearl Cleage

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Information about Pearl Cleage

Profile image of Pearl Cleage

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Essayist
Fiction Writer
Playwright

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Pasta
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
Thank You.

Birthplace

Born:
12/7/1948
Birth Location:
Springfield, Massachusetts

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Essayist
Fiction Writer
Playwright

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Pasta
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
Thank You.

Birthplace

Born:
12/7/1948
Birth Location:
Springfield
See how Pearl Cleage is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Writer, playwright, poet, essayist, and journalist Pearl Michelle Cleage was born on December 7, 1948 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Cleage is the youngest daughter of Doris Graham and Albert B. Cleage Jr., the founder of the Shrine of the Black Madonna. After graduating from the Detroit public schools in 1966, Cleage enrolled at Howard University, where she studied playwriting. In 1969, she moved to Atlanta and enrolled at Spelman College, married Michael Lomax and became a mother. She graduated from Spelman College in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in drama.

Cleage has become accomplished in all aspects of her career. As a writer, she has written three novels: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Avon Books, 1997), which was an Oprah’s Book club selection, a New York Times bestseller, and a BCALA Literary Award Winner, I Wish I Had a Red Dress (Morrow/Avon, 2001), and Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do, which was published in 2003. As an essayist, many of her essays and articles have appeared in magazines such as Essence, Ms., Vibe, Rap Pages, and many other publications. Examples of these essays include Mad at Miles and Good Brother Blues. Cleage has written over a dozen plays, some of which include Flyin’ West, Bourbon at the Border, and Blues for an Alabama Sky, which returned to Atlanta as part of the 1996 Cultural Olympiad in conjunction with the 1996 Olympic Games. In addition to her writing she has been an activist all her life. Starting at her father’s church, The Shrine of the Black Madonna – Cleage has been involved in the Pan-Africanist Movement, Civil Rights Movement and Feminist Movement. She has also been a pioneer in grassroots and community theater.

Cleage is the mother of one daughter, Deignan, the grandmother of one grandson, Michael, and one granddaughter, Chloe Pearl. She is married to Zaron W. Burnett, a writer with whom she frequently collaborates.

See how Pearl Cleage is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Pearl Cleage's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Pearl Cleage lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Pearl Cleage describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Pearl Cleage describes the life of her mother and maternal grandparents in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Pearl Cleage describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Pearl Cleage describes her father's radical politics and how that influenced his preaching
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Pearl Cleage describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Pearl Cleage describes her childhood community in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Pearl Cleage describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Pearl Cleage talks about the geographical boundaries of Detroit, Michigan during her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Pearl Cleage talks about her experiences at Roosevelt Elementary School and McMichael Junior High School in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Pearl Cleage describes her childhood aspirations to become a writer
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Pearl Cleage describes her experiences at Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Pearl Cleage remembers deciding between whether to be a writer or a dancer during her time at Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Pearl Cleage talks about how her father, Albert B. Cleage, Jr., influenced her relationship to religion and her writing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Pearl Cleage describes her involvement in political activism as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Pearl Cleage describes her experiences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Pearl Cleage recalls her experiences at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Pearl Cleage recalls her first jobs in Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Pearl Cleage explains her and her family's anxiety at the prospect of her moving to the South
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Pearl Cleage relates how she grew as a writer through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Pearl Cleage shares her perspective on how women were treated within the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Pearl Cleage describes the resistance to feminism among politically radical men during the 1960s and 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Pearl Cleage remembers how she came to join the feminist movement in the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Pearl Cleage talks about her tenure working as press secretary in Maynard Jackson's first mayoral administration in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Pearl Cleage describes her career in freelance writing after leaving her position as press secretary for Atlanta City Hall in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Pearl Cleage describes developing new plays during her years with Just Us Theater Company in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Pearl Cleage talks about the spoken word poetry movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Pearl Cleage talks about writing her first book, 'Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Pearl Cleage talks about writing plays for the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Pearl Cleage recalls writing her first novel, 'What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day' in the mid-1990s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Pearl Cleage talks about her career as a novelist after having her first novel selected by Oprah Winfrey for Oprah's book club
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Pearl Cleage reflects on her new role as a grandmother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Pearl Cleage talks about her hopes and concerns for the women's rights movement and for international relations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Pearl Cleage talks about the importance of life stories and storytelling for understanding history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Pearl Cleage reflects upon her life, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Pearl Cleage offers advice for aspiring writers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Pearl Cleage details her plans for her future
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Pearl Cleage reflects upon her life, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Pearl Cleage talks about the importance of the African American community of Atlanta, Georgia in her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Pearl Cleage talks about her values and beliefs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Pearl Cleage describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Pearl Cleage reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Pearl Cleage narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Pearl Cleage narrates her photographs, pt. 2