Ntozake Shange Has Passed Away At Age 70

Stephanie Barnes - Author

Oct. 28 2018, Updated 12:18 a.m. ET

Poet, author, and playwright Ntozake Shange, famously known for her Tony Award-nominated play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, has passed away at the age of 70, according to a report from Vulture.

Shange had suffered a number of strokes in recent years, but her health was believed to be improving. Unfortunately, she died peacefully in her sleep in an assisted living facility in Bowie, Maryland, just days after her 70th birthday.

Her family posted the heartbreaking news on her official Twitter page.

Shange was born Paulette L. Williams in New Jersey on October 18, 1948. She took an interest in poetry at a young age, studied at the Barnard College in New York City, and later traveled to California to earned a masters degree at USC.

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She returned to New York City in 1975, and in that same year, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, was brought to life. The play explored the experience of women of color living in the United States, and eventually made its way to Broadway. Shange’s production quickly became a hit and earned several accolades, including an Obie Award.

The play became a book and in 2010, Tyler Perry turned it into a movie, For Colored Girls, which featured an all-star cast of black actresses including Janet Jackson, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tessa Thompson.

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Shange was a black woman who wrote for black women. She became a well-known figure in the Black Arts Movement, alongside other notable women like Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Rosa Guy, Lorraine Hansberry, Lucille Clifton, and Sonia Sanchez, Deadline reports.

Her work has appeared in a number of publications and has inspired even more women across the world. After hearing the news of her passing, countless women, particularly black women, took to social media to share how Shange has touched their lives and send condolences to the grieving family.

Actress Kerry Washington posted a popular quote from Shange, while film director Ava DuVernay tweeted another quote, along with the words, “Thank you, Ntozake Shange. Rest now, Queen.”

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While speaking with the Star Tribune, her sister, Ifa Bayeza said the following.

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“Zake was a woman of extravagance and flourish, and she left quickly without suffering. It’s a huge loss for the world. I don’t think there’s a day on the planet when there’s not a young woman who discovers herself through the words of my sister.”

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According to the tweet posted by her family, “memorial information/details will follow at a later date.”


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