Cover of the original Broadway cast recording of “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.”

“Despite the health challenges of living in a differently abled body, Ntozake Shange continues to to experiment as an artist,” Jamara Wakefield writes. “Her work has been handed down by generations of women now, passed from mother to daughter, sister to sister, or friend to friend. Because “for colored girls” is such an institution in black women’s lives, many of us have felt as though we knew Shange in some way.”

The playwright who created the celebrated choreopoem “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” suffered two strokes that left her unable to read in 2011. Wakefield says that Shange was diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.

Click here to read more about how she persevered and her new book, Wild Beauty: New and Selected Poems of Ntozake Shange.