Poet Sonia Sanchez Intro (03:40)
Sanchez refers to herself as a woman “with razor blades between her teeth.” She recites “Middle Passage” for and audience. Admirers describe her poetry as thought-provoking, revolutionary, and honest.
Mentor and Honors (04:26)
Sanchez recalls her greatest teacher, Louise Bogan. She attends an event in Birmingham, Alabama and recites “Dear Mama,” a poem about her grandmother.
Sanchez's Family and Early Life (06:46)
Sanchez laments having no memories of her mother who died when she was a baby. She describes her childhood during which her father was gone for extended periods and her sister was sexually abused. Her family eventually moved from Birmingham to New York where they experienced culture shock.
Discovering Black Literature (04:38)
Sanchez recalls a brush with racism and a serendipitous discovery. She was first exposed to the works of Zora Neal Hurston, W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington through the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Jazz Drummer Max Roach (02:53)
Sanchez visits Roach's grave with his daughter Maxine and historian John Bracey, Jr. Her haiku adorns his headstone. She recalls reciting poetry during a performance with Roach and saxophonist Archie Shepp.
"Children of Malcolm" (10:47)
Sanchez describes the activism of the Congress of Racial Equality, a group she joined in the 1960s, and the formation of the Black Arts Movement in the wake of the assassination of Malcolm X.
Empowering Women (10:26)
Sanchez and others describe her knack for writing poetry that is empowering to black women and also addresses their sexuality. Professor Brenda Greene asks Sanchez how much of her work is autobiographical.
Black Studies (05:14)
Sanchez recalls the Bay Area’s movement of the late 1960s, the curriculum she taught at San Francisco State University, and her involvement with the Black Panther Party.
Sanchez's Marriage and Children (02:57)
Sanchez discusses her marriages and three children. Poet Haki Madhubuti speculates that jealousy undermines her romantic relationships.
Nation of Islam Years (02:54)
Madhubuti says he was surprised when Sanchez joined the Nation of Islam in 1972. Sanchez discusses her reasons for joining and the struggles she faced during that period in her life.
"Def Poetry" and Hip-Hop (04:25)
Sanchez meets the Roots drummer Questlove at NBC Studios and they discuss her embracing of hip-hop music. She appears on hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’s “Def Poetry” program and discusses the harsh realities she addresses in verse.
Controversial Teacher (06:42)
Sanchez recalls the circumstances under which she left Manhattan Community College and being "blackballed" afterward. Her rabblerousing and controversial opinions made it difficult for her to make tenure; she and her children moved often.
Landing at Temple University (02:42)
Temple University hired Sanchez in 1977. Peers describes her approach to teaching creative writing and the tension her fame sometimes creates.
Mumia Abu-Jamal and M.O.V.E. (04:44)
Sanchez and others discuss her involvement in the trial of Abu-Jamal, a journalist and activist accused of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. They also revisit the 1985 police bombing of a black separatist group’s compound which resulted in and out-of-control blaze and 11 deaths.
Sanchez's Current Lifestyle (06:27)
Sanchez explains her reasons for turning to eastern medicine and a macrobiotic diet. She reads from her collection “Does Your House Have Lions?” which was inspired by her estranged brother, who died of AIDS.
Peace Activist (09:36)
Sanchez explains why she prefers to “re-imagine” instead of “reinvent.” She recalls her arrest with the anti-war activist group, the Granny Peace Brigade, and helps plan a peace mural. She remains active well into her 80s.
Credits: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez (01:54)
Credits: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez
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