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Masani Alexis DeVeaux

Known as both Masani (a name given to her by a South African friend in 1986 meaning "girl-child born with gap teeth") and Alexis (her birth name), DeVeaux is an accomplished poet, playwright and novelist. In an interview she gave with the ArtVoicein March 2002 (quoted in FemmeNoir, a web portal for lesbians of color), DeVeaux explained why she is so passionate about literary expression:

I'm interested in the relationship between history and literature, so I like to investigate how African American women and women of color construct our visions of history while appropriating literary forms.

I see our contemporary literatures as agents of social change, critical to our different but similar struggles for self-determination and peoplehood. As a writer intimately engaged in this process myself, I teach courses that are designed to challenge the dominant paradigms of history, literature, and creativity.

Receiving her B.A. in 1976 at the State University of New York Empire State College and her M.A. in American Studies from the University at Buffalo, DeVeaux began working at UB as an instructor in 1991. Later, she earned her Ph.D. from UB in American Studies, specializing in Women's Studies, in 1992.

A prolific writer, DeVeaux has published a wide variety of works ranging from an exclusive interview with Nelson Mandela soon after his release from prison in 1990 to her two award-winning children's books, NA-NI (1973) and An Enchanted Hair Tale (1987).

She has won numerous awards for her writing including:

  • 1972 -- Winner of National Black Fiction Contest for her first short story "Remember Him, an Outlaw"
  • 1973 -- Best Production Award from Westchester Community College Drama Festival for her play, Circles
  • 1974 -- Brooklyn Museum of Art Books for Children Award for NA-NI
  • 1988 -- American Library Association (ALA) Coretta Scott King Award for An Enchanted Hair Tale
  • 1991 -- Lorraine Hansberry Award for Excellence in Children's Literature for An Enchanted Hair Tale

DeVeaux has also made significant contributions to local, national, and international organizations including:

  • Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County
  • Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS)
  • Brooklyn-based Performance Collective
  • Buffalo Quarters Historical Society
  • Flamboyant Ladies Theater Company (co-founded with actress Gwendolen Hardwick; 1979-1986)
  • Just Buffalo Literary Center
  • MADRE, an international women's self-help organization

Alexis DeVeaux has also been recognized as an Uncrowned Queen.

Affiliation(s): Women's Studies
Record Group(s): 22