Ntozake Shange

image for Ntozake Shange
Exhibition Label
Ntozake Shange's poetry, plays, and prose reflect her fierce commitment to empowering women of color by telling their stories, honoring their struggles, and celebrating their strength. Reared in a culturally rich but sheltered environment, Shange was shaken by the racism she encountered in society. The anger and alienation that prompted her to attempt suicide at age nineteen would later be channeled into her most compelling work. In the early 1970s, after renouncing her birth, or "slave," name (Paulette Williams) in favor of an African one meaning "she who comes with her own things/she who walks like a lion," Shange began developing a performance piece rooted in the experiences of contemporary black women. When her groundbreaking "choreopoem," For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, reached Broadway in 1976, it was hailed for its powerful and passionate storytelling.
Ntozake Shange: Female
Ntozake Shange: Literature\Writer
Ntozake Shange: Literature\Writer\Poet
Ntozake Shange: Literature\Writer\Playwright
National Portrait Gallery
Restrictions & Rights
© Anthony Barboza
Anthony Barboza, born 1944
Ntozake Shange, 18 Oct 1948 - 27 Oct 2018
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Danica, Alexio, and Lien Barboza
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 x 34.3cm (13 1/2 x 13 1/2")
Sheet: 50.5 x 40.6cm (19 7/8 x 16")
Mat (non-standard size): 61 x 71.1cm (24 x 28")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Ntozake Shange: American\African American