Shirley Graham Du Bois

  • Born Lola Shirley Graham, Jr.
    • Only daughter of six children
    • Father was a minister
    • Graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington
  • Shirley Graham was a phenomenal American award-winning author, playwright, composer and activist
    • Moved to Paris, France to study music composition at Sorbonne
    • Meeting Africans & Afro-Caribbean people in Paris introduced her to new music and cultures
  • Married to W.E.B Du Bois in 1951
  • She was 53, he was 83
  • They emigrated to Ghana
  • After his death in 1963, she was forced to leave after a military-led coup d’état, and moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she continued writing
  • Graham became a member of Sojourners for Truth & Justice
    • An African-American organization for global women’s liberation
  • In 1926, Graham composed the musical score and libretto of Tom Tom: An Epic of Music and the Negro (1932)
    • She used music, dance, and the book to express the story of Africans’ journey to the North American colonies, through slavery and freedom
  • Her theatre works included: Deep Rivers (1939), It’s Morning (1940), I Gotta Home (1940), Track Thirteen (1940), Elijah’s Raven (1941), and Dust to Earth (1941)
  • Due to the difficulty in getting musicals or plays produced and published, Graham turned to literature
    • She wrote in a variety of genres, specializing from the 1950s in biographies of leading African-American and world figures for young readers
  • Died from breast cancer in 1977, in Tanzania


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