Birthplace: Trenton, New Jersey
Born Paulette Williams, she graduated from Barnard College in 1970, and later earned an MA from the University of Southern California. It was there she changed her name to the Zulu “Ntozake” meaning “she who comes with her own things” and “Shange” meaning “who walks like a lion.” Her best known work, for colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf, was produced on Broadway and won an Obie Award in 1977. Several other plays and novels followed, including the 2004 children's book, Ellington Was Not a Street. She has taught at California State College, the City College of New York, the University of Houston, Rice University, Yale, Howard, and New York University.