Biographies- From Artist to Activist: A New Haven Legend

Angela C. Robinson

Angela C. Robinson is a Connecticut Superior Court judge. She was a student at the Bowen-Peters School for many years, as a child and credits Angela Bowen as being one of her early and important mentors and teachers. Robinson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, but grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a 1982 honors graduate of the Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut. She earned her Bachelors degree from Rutgers University, Douglass College (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1986, completing her undergraduate education in three and one-half years. She earned her law degree from the Yale Law School in 1989.

Robinson began her legal career as a lawyer in the New Haven law firm, Wiggin and Dana. She left Wiggin and Dana to join Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, in Bridgeport, where she specialized in medical malpractice, premises liability, employment discrimination and child abuse cases. Her appointment to the bench in 1998, at the age of 33, made her the youngest Superior Court Judge in Connecticut history.
Robinson, a frequent guest speaker at area schools, has hosted numerous visits to the court by school children, and has donated much of her free time to public and charitable organizations. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Organizer of the L.A.W. Camp for Teens in New Haven. For her contributions to the legal community and to the Greater New Haven area, Robinson has received many awards and recognition, including her recent selection as the Honoree for the Connecticut Bar Association’s Diversity Award, given by the Young Lawyers Division in November 2014.

A New Haven resident, Judge Robinson is a divorced, single mother. She and her son, who is in middle school, are members of Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ.

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Shari Caldwell

Ms. Shari Caldwell founded The Caldwell Dance Center, LLC (TCDC) in February, 2011. Dance is a life-long passion for Ms. Caldwell. She has over 3 decades experience as a dancer and arts educator. TCDC carries the legacy of Bowen Peters School of Dance, the first African-American dance school in New Haven, CT. Ms. Caldwell has studied under such professionals as Dr. Angela Bowen, Dr. Pearl Primus, Chuck Davis and various artists from the international companies, Les Ballets Africains and Merveille D'Afrique. Her early training would also include classes and instructors at Alvin Ailey's Contemporary Dance Center and Broadway Dance Center in New York City in the late '70s. Ms. Caldwell developed and co-directed the African drum and dance company Baafila with international artist Yamoussa Camara in 2000. She presently directs Company Mabhongo an African-American contemporary dance company.

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Angela Bowen

Angela Bowen: classical dancer, dance teacher, social justice activist, and professor, has influenced and inspired untold numbers by speaking out as strongly for the arts as she has for Black, Women's and LGBT rights.

From 1950, when Angela was 14 years old, until her early forties, her love affair with dance graced the stages of Boston and Europe. For nearly two decades, she enhanced the lives of young inner city children in New Haven, Connecticut at her school, The Bowen Peters School of Dance. Bowen made the most difficult decision in her life when she decided to close her school to join the feminist movement and the women her were inspiring her to become a writer, speaker, and organizer. In the early 1980s, Bowen spoke and wrote about revolutionary feminism, black lesbian and gay life, lesbian parenting, and honoring diversity. She appeared on local and national radio and television shows. Bowen spoke nationally and internationally at over 60 colleges, universities, high schools, conferences, clubs and organizations, including The Girl Scouts of America. In her speeches she brought to the forefront the differences and commonalities between and among social justice issues and the need for Coalition Building.

In her fifties, Bowen returned to college to get her Bachelor's degree at the University of Massachusetts. She was the first Women's Studies PhD graduate from Clark University. Angela taught Women’s Studies and English at California State University, Long Beach for 13 years. After retirement Bowen she completed "Out of the Blue: Aleta's Stories, a collection of short fiction.

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Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Beverly Guy-Sheftall, PH.D. is founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center (since 1981) and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She was for many years an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies where she taught graduate courses in their doctoral program Guy-Sheftall holds a B.A. in English from Spelman College and an M.A. in English from Atlanta University to pursue a master’s degree in English. In 1971 she joined the Spelman College English Department.

Guy-Sheftall has published a number of texts within African American and Women’s Studies which include the first anthology on Black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979), which she coedited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith; her dissertation, Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880-1920 (Carlson, 1991); and Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (New Press, 1995). She has also completed with Johnnetta Betsch Cole a monograph, Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities, which was published by Random House in February 2003, and Who Should Be First?: Feminists Speak Out on the 2008 Presidential Election (SUNY Press, 2010). In 1983 she became founding editor of Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women.

Guy-Sheftall is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among them a National Kellogg Fellowship and Spelman’s Presidential Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship. She has provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically Black college. She is also past president of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA). Beyond the academy, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations which include the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she serves.

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LaCHANZE

LaCHANZE. Broadway: If/Then, The Color Purple (Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical), Once on This Island (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), Ragtime, Company and Uptown It’s Hot. Off-Broadway: Dessa Rose (Obie Award and Drama Desk Award nomination), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Drama Desk nomination) and Inked Baby. Other theater credits: The Wiz, Baby, From the Mississippi Delta and Spunk. Film credits include: The Help, Side Effects, Breaking Upwards, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Disney’s Hercules, For Love or Money and Leap of Faith. Television credits include Handel’s Messiah Rocks (Emmy Award), Lucy (CBS TV movie), Law & Order: SVU, Sex and the City, New York Undercover, The Cosby Show and the upcoming HBO miniseries Crime. Follow me on Twitter: @lachanze

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Kate Rushin

Kate Rushin is an Oberlin alum and received an M.F.A. from Brown University. She has taught at MIT, UMASS-Boston and Wesleyan University, where she held the positions of Director of the Center for African American Studies and Visiting Writer.

She is the author of The Black Back-Ups (Firebrand Books) and "The Bridge Poem." Her poems appear in Callaloo, This Bridge Called My Back (4th edition, SUNY Press) and Raising Lily Ledbetter: Women Occupy the Workspace, (Lost Horse/Washington U. Press). Kate has read for the Smith College Poetry Center, The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Poets House and NPR.

Kate has also led workshops for CT Humanities/Poetry Out Loud and The Hartford History Center/ Hartford Public Library and Cave Canem. She serves on the CT Poetry Circuit and The James Merrill House Committee.

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