“Pearl Cleage: A Time for Reflection”

MARBLandNHPRClogos“Revealing Her Story: Documenting African American Women Intellectuals” is a two-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to arrange and describe the personal papers of nine African American women writers, artists and musicians. Collections included in the project are the Pearl Cleage papers; additions to the Delilah Jackson papers; the Samella S. Lewis papers; the Almena Lomax papers; the May Miller papers; the Undine Smith Moore papers; the Geneva Southall papers; the Mildred Thompson papers; and the Sarah E. Wright papers. To read the press release announcing the project, click here.



A new collaborative exhibit between MARBL and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre is now on display at the Woodruff Arts Center. “Pearl Cleage: A Time for Reflection” showcases items from Pearl Cleage’s collection held at MARBL, which is part of an NHPRC funded project to process the papers of nine African American women intellectuals. The exhibit includes correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and printed materials from the Pearl Cleage collection.

The exhibit is a reflection on Pearl Cleage’s life and work as one of the most important and popular artists of the last quarter century. Cleage is a world-renowned novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist. Her writing, both fiction and non-fiction, has been deeply influential and has focused on topics at the junction of sexism and racism, and on issues like rape and domestic violence in the black community.  Many of her novels and stories are set in the south, and in Atlanta neighborhoods.  Some of her most popular works include What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary DayWish I Had a Red Dress, and We Speak Your Names.  Cleage is also an activist for AIDS and Women’s Rights; many of her stories are drawn from these personal experiences. She has also authored a number of plays, including The Nacirema SocietyFlyin’ WestBlues for an Alabama SkyBourbon at the Border, and A Song for Coretta.  The exhibit commemorates the 20th anniversary of Blues for an Alabama Sky, which is being performed at the Alliance Theatre through May 10.


Cleage is the current Playwright-in-Residence at the Alliance Theatre, located in the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.  The exhibit is on display in the Woodruff Arts Center Galleria’s north alcove, on the balcony level, and will remain on display through the summer.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.  The exhibit is described below.

“One of the most acclaimed artists of the last quarter century, Cleage’s work is the result of her commitment to telling stories related to African Americans, the complex issues surrounding racism, classism, and sexism, and the joy of being free. Through her work, she explores the lives of African American women and how the need for self-love, self-appreciation, and self-forgiveness are essential to the development of a healthy existence. While writers come and go, some are better than others. Few are able to have a sustained impact on the world during the time period in which they live. Cleage has achieved this and more. In a word, her work is indispensable.”  – Pellom McDaniels III PhD. Curator of African American Collections

Read more about the exhibition and how to visit, here: http://bit.ly/1FRKtEg. If you’d like to learn more about the Pearl Cleage Papers held at MARBL, see our FindingAids Database entry: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/c4jrb.


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