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Sonia Sanchez

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Information about Sonia Sanchez

Profile image of Sonia Sanchez

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
English Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Oatmeal, Bananas
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Ebay eyah (It will get better.) Peace.

Birthplace

Born:
9/9/1934
Birth Location:
Birmingham, Alabama

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
English Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Oatmeal, Bananas
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Ebay eyah (It will get better.) Peace.

Birthplace

Born:
9/9/1934
Birth Location:
Birmingham
See how Sonia Sanchez is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Poet Sonia Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 9, 1934. Sanchez's mother died a year later, leaving the young girl to be raised by her paternal grandmother, who unlocked her gift for poetry. At age four, Sanchez learned to read, and by the age of six, she began to write. Unfortunately, soon after, Sanchez's grandmother died and the young girl drifted between relatives and family friends. Sanchez went on to spent three decades in Harlem, where she studied creative writing at Hunter College, graduating in 1955.

Sanchez counted the negritude poets among her artistic influences, but also found inspiration from her work as an activist with CORE in New York. While with CORE, Sanchez came into contact with Malcolm X, whose direct truthfulness moved her to write blunt, passionate, and painfully honest poetry about the African American experience.

In 1976, Sanchez settled in Philadelphia, and the following year became, chairperson of the English Department at Temple University. During the course of her career, Sanchez wrote several books and collections of poetry that captured, often with wrenching emotion, the plight of her community. Sanchez found herself profoundly affected by the 1985 bombing of a house full of black political radicals affiliated with MOVE, and eulogized them in Elegy: For Move and Philadelphia. Sanchez's 1984 book Homegirls and Handgrenades: Poems won the American Book Award the following year. Some of Sanchez's other noteworthy works include: Under a Soprano Sky (1987); Wounded in the House of a Friend (1997); and Shake Loose My Skin (2000).

Sanchez received several awards for her work both as a poet and an activist. Sanchez traveled around the world to read her poetry, and also wrote children's fiction and plays.

See how Sonia Sanchez is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sonia Sanchez interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her family history not having been preserved
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez describes her parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez shares memories of her chilldhood in Alabama and New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez names the schools she attended
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sonia Sanchez recalls her youth in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez describes her youthful interest in poetry and creative writing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez recounts her experiences at Hunter College, The City University of New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez describes her post-college pursuits and first published poems
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her civil rights work with CORE in New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls an encounter with Malcolm X after a speech
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez remembers black youths' admiration for Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez discusses why she didn't go to the South as a civil rights worker
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez describes her connection to Birmingham, Alabama, her childhood home
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez considers the contributions of Malcolm X
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls a day of extremes in her youth: being "un-hired" due to race and discovering the world of black literature
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez remembers the road to getting published
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez remembers her relationship with Schomburg Center curator Jean Blackwell Hutson at the end of her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez discusses Broadside Press
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her meeting and collaborations with Amiri Baraka
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her career in the mid-1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls an FBI investigation and threats for teaching banned black writers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez recalls events around the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her involvement with the Nation of Islam, part 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her involvement with the Nation of Islam, part 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez details her progressive philosophy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez recounts a moment shared with her father
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez describes how she'd like to be remembered