Sonia Sanchez (born Wilsonia Benita Driver, September 9,1934) is an African-American poet most often associated with the Black Arts Movement. She has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as short stories, critical essays, plays, and children's books. She was a recipient of 1993 Pew Fellowships in the Arts.
Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 9,1934. Her mother died when Sanchez was only a year old, so she spent several years being shuttled back and forth among relatives. One of those was her grandmother, who died when Sanchez was six. In 1943, she moved to Harlem to live with her father, her sister, and her stepmother, who was her father's third wife. In 1955, Sanchez received a B.A. in Political Science from Hunter College, where she had also taken several creative writing courses. Later, she completed postgraduate work at New York University, where she studied poetry with Louise Bogan.
Although her first marriage to Albert Sanchez did not last, Sonia Sanchez would retain her professional name.
In 1972, she joined the Nation of Islam, but left the organization after three years in 1975 because her views on women's rights conflicted with theirs.
She taught 5th Grade in NYC at the Downtown Community School, until 1967. Sanchez has taught as a professor at eight universities and has lectured at over 500 college campuses across the US, including Howard University. She advocated the introduction of Black Studies courses in California. Sanchez was the first to create and teach a course based on Black Women and literature in the United States. Sanchez was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began working in 1977. There, she held the Laura Carnell chair until her retirement in 1999. She is currently a poet-in-residence at Temple University.