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Alexis De Veaux Papers

Masani Alexis De Veaux (1948- ) is an American writer and illustrator, and former chair of the Department of Women’s Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Born on September 24, 1948, in Harlem, De Veaux received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York Empire State College. She continued her education in creative writing at the University of Buffalo, where she attained a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. A voice for black feminism and LGBTQ equality, Dr. De Veaux’s writings often reflect the racial and sexual experiences of black female characters. Her work encompasses a range of social articles, poetry, fiction, and memoir.

Portrait: Alexis De Veaux, undated

Throughout her career, she has been part of the black feminist movement and the Third World Gay and Lesbian Liberation Movement. Her work has been heavily influenced by these movements. Early in the 1970s, De Veaux become a member of the writer’s workshop of the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center in Harlem. Under the guidance of the workshop’s leader, the late writer Fred Hudson, De Veaux won first place in a national black fiction writer's contest (1972). Working in multiple genres, De Veaux has been the recipient of a number of literary awards including the Gustavus Meyers Outstanding Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Biography, and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award, Nonfiction.

De Veaux has traveled extensively for her work as an artist and lecturer. She was a freelance writer and contributing editor for Essence magazine (1979-1991) and traveled throughout Africa for the magazine. Essence chose her to travel to South Africa in 1990 to interview Nelson Mandela after his release from prison and was the first North American to interview him.

Cover: Blue Heat: A Portfolio of Poems & Drawings by Alexis De Veaux, 1985

De Veaux’s published works include books (Na-Ni, 1973; Spirits in the Street, 1973; Don’t Explain: A Song of Billie Holiday, 1980; Blue Heat: Poems and Drawings, 1985; An Enchanted Hair Tale, 1987; The Woolu Hat, 1995); Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (2004); Yabo (2014); and five short stories (“Remember Him A Outlaw,” 1972; “The Riddles of Egypt Brown-stone,” 1980, rpt. 1990; “All Shut Eyes Ain’t Closed, All Goodbyes Ain’t Gone,” 1983; “Adventures of the Dread Sisters,” 1991; and “The Ethical Vegetarian,” 1995). In addition, De Veaux has published dozens of articles and essays on various subjects, including “Jayne Cortez, Revolutionary Mouth on Paper” (Essence, 1978) and “SisterLove” (Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing, 1995). One of her plays, “The Tapestry” (1986), is included in the anthology Nine Plays by Black Women Playwrights. Others have been produced Off-Broadway and in regional theaters across the country, and one play, “Circles” (1972), was produced at KCET-TV, California (1976).

Alexis De Veaux’s papers mainly consist of correspondence, drafts of original manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera documenting her professional life and work. Correspondence within the collection is professional in nature covering De Veaux’s many speaking and lecturing engagements, publishing, her work as the chair of the Women’s Department at the University of Buffalo, and her work as a graduate student in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The papers are rich in original drafts and notebooks of De Veaux poetry, novels, and biographies including Yabo, The Unbreakable Threat, and Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde. Additionally, her published work, Blue Heat: A Portfolio of Poems and Drawings (1985) is available.

Of note are photographs taken in South Africa during the celebration of Nelson Mandela's historical release from prison in 1990.

Images from the Alexis De Veaux Papers. Images from Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.

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