Black Women : Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs

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    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs, an African-American artist, educator and writer, was born on this date in 1917.

    She was born in St. Rose Parish, Louisiana, but was brought at the age of five by her parents, Alexander and Octavia Pierre Taylor, to Chicago where she grew up. In Taylor married artist Bernard Goss in 1939, and later had a daughter, Gayle. She graduated from Chicago Teachers' College in 1937 and she earned a B.A. in art education at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948.

    Margaret Taylor Goss and her husband later divorced. She then went to teach at DuSable High School for 23 years. In 1947, her first children’s book, "Jasper, the Drummin’ Boy," was published, and she went on to publish other children's books. Taylor Goss remarried on December 23, 1949, to Charles Gordon Burroughs.

    She was a painter in both watercolor and oils and printmaker beginning in 1949. She has had exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad.

    She has also been an arts organizer and helped found a number of arts organizations. The Burroughs founded the Ebony Museum of African-American History (renamed the Dusable Museum of African-American History) in their home in Chicago. They wanted to make art, history, and literature on the Black experience accessible to the community. The museum was eventually moved to Washington Park, and Margaret Burroughs became the executive director. It was her founding in 1961 of the DuSable Museum of African-American History, however, that placed her among the outstanding institution builders of her generation. She served as a director of the museum until her appointment as a commissioner of the Chicago Park District in 1985.

    Burroughs began her writing career by doing articles and reviews for the Associated Negro Press. During the 1940s, she taught art in Chicago elementary schools. Her work as an educator led to write books for children, and her works include "Jasper, the Drummin’ Boy" (1947) and the anthology "Did You Feed My Cow?" (1956), both of which were reprinted.

    Burroughs and her husband Charles were known in the Chicago area as the founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Opened in the couple's South Side house in 1961 as the Ebony Museum of African American History, the collected artifacts expressed Burroughs' commitment to exploring and sharing the cultural heritage of African Americans.

    Burroughs has made a distinctive contribution as a poet and as an editor of poets. Most of her poems are published in the volumes, "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?" (1968) and "Africa, My Africa" (1970). Her most notable work as an editor was her collaboration with Dudley Randall in the production of the commemorative anthology "For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X," (1967). She also published several volumes of her own poetry.

    Although Burroughs has worked in sculpture, painting, and many other art forms throughout her career, it is her exceptional skill as a printmaker that has earned her a place within the history of art. For many years, she has worked with linoleum block prints to create images evocative of African-American culture. Burroughs' work has been featured in exclusive shows at the Corcoran Art Galleries in Washington, D.C., and at the Studio Museum in New York.

    Burroughs taught humanities at Kennedy-King Community College between 1969 and 1979. She served on the Chicago District’s Board of Education in the 1980s. Throughout her career, she has received many awards and honors for her achievements, including a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lewis University in Illinois, honorary degrees from the Art Institute of Chicago, where she taught humanities in 1968, Chicago State, and Columbia colleges. A day was named in her honor by Mayor Harold Washington on February 1, 1986.

    Reference:
    The Book of African-American Women:
    150 Crusaders, Creators, and Uplifters
    by Tonya Bolden
    Adams Media
    ISBN 1-58062-928-8

    The History Makers, online biography.
     
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