This child’s view of the long day’s work in the cotton fields, simply expressed in a poet’s resonant language, is a fresh and stirring look at migrant family life.
Sherley Anne Williams…
was raised in poverty in a housing project in Fresno. Williams’ mother, who discouraged Sherley from reading because she thought books would fill her head with false hope for the future, died when Williams was sixteen years old. Williams was placed in the custody of her sister, Ruby, who was a single mother, struggling to get by on her own. Sherley and Ruby managed to provide for themselves, eking by on income earned from odd jobs such as picking cotton, working seasonally in department stores, and cutting grapes.
After graduation from Edison Junior/Senior High School in Fresno in 1962, Williams attended California State University, Fresno where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. In 1972 she received a master’s degree from Brown University. In 1975 Williams joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego and became the first African American female faculty member in the university’s English department. She worked at the University of California, San Diego until her death in 1999.
Williams’ writing highlighted the importance of folklore and history in shaping black identity…continue reading