Sonia Sanchez

30 May 2017


Pew Fellow Sonia Sanchez. Photo by Erika Vonie.

Sonia Sanchez is an award-winning poet, playwright, professor, activist, and one of the foremost leaders of the Black Studies movement. She earned a BA from Hunter College in 1955 and attended graduate school at New York University, where she studied with the poet Louise Bogan. She began teaching in 1965, first on the staff of the Downtown Community School in New York and later at San Francisco State College (now University), where she became a pioneer in developing Black Studies courses, including a class in African American women’s literature. Sanchez was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999.

Sanchez is the author of more than a twenty books. Her poetry books include Morning Haiku (2010); Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (1999); Does your house have lions? (1995), which was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award; Homegirls & Handgrenades (1984), which won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; I’ve Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems (1978); A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women (1973); Love Poems (1973); We a BaddDDD People (1970); and Homecoming (1969).

Among the many honors she has received are the Robert Creeley Award, the Frost Medal, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and a National Endowment for the Arts Award. She is the subject of the documentary film BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez by Pew Fellows Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.