Campus News

Poet Sonia Sanchez to visit UGA as part of UGA desegregation observance

Athens, Ga. – As part of the University of Georgia’s observance of the 50th anniversary of its desegregation, noted poet, author, playwright and activist Sonia Sanchez will visit campus Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Grand Hall of Tate Student Center.

Sanchez will discuss race and gender in contemporary American society as well as her experiences with the civil rights movement and the Black Arts Movement, which spanned the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, adds an artistic component and broad historical contextualization to the desegregation observance, according to Derrick Alridge, director of the Institute for African American Studies.

“This will be an interactive, free-flowing conversation, not just a lecture,” said Alridge, who is co-chair of the planning committee. “Students and other participants are encouraged to ask questions during her talk.”

Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will moderate the conversation. Reginald McKnight, UGA’s Hamilton Holmes Professor of English, will join Sanchez for the discussion.

Born in Birmingham, Ala., Sanchez earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hunter College in 1955 and did postgraduate work at New York University.

She is the author of more than 16 books, including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Shake Loose My Skin and Homegirls and Handgrenades, which won the American Book Award in 1985. Her most recent book, Morning Haiku, was published in 2010.

In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies, Sanchez has edited an anthology, We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans.

The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Sanchez also received the Lucretia Mott Award in 1984, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities in 1988, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1989, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for 1992-1993 and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist and a Ford Freedom Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

The first Presidential Fellow at Temple University where she joined the faculty in 1977, Sanchez held the Laura Carnell Chair in English until her retirement in 1999.

Sanchez and Charlayne Hunter-Gault are two of the women in “Freedom’s Sisters,” a traveling exhibit sponsored by Ford Motor Co., which illuminates the contribution that 20 African-American females provided during the civil rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.

For more information on the 50th anniversary of UGA’s desegregation and events, see