Alexis De Veaux, Ph.D., was born and raised in Harlem, the product of two merging streams of black history in New York City—immigrants from the Carribbean and migrants from North Carolina. The second of eight children, she was drawn to the world of words and books, and literature soon became the means by which she reimagined the world.
In the early 1970s, Alexis joined the writer’s workshop of the Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center in Harlem. She won first place in a national black fiction writers’ contest (1972); published her first children’s book, Na-Ni (1973); and the fictionalized memoir, Spirits in the Street (1973).
In 1980, she published Don’t Explain, an award-winning biography of jazz great Billie Holiday. As a freelance writer and contributing editor for Essence magazine in the 1980s, she penned a number of socially relevant articles, traveling on behalf of the magazine to Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Egypt. She was chosen by the magazine to go to South Africa in 1990 to interview Nelson Mandela upon his historic release from prison, making her the first North American writer to do so. She published a second award-winning children’s book, An Enchanted Hair Tale (1987) before moving to Buffalo and earning a doctorate in American Studies at the University at Buffalo in 1992. Her biography of Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet (2004), has been the recipient of several awards, including the Gustavus Meyers Outstanding Book Award (2004), the Lambda Literary Award for Biography (2004), and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Nonfiction (2005).
Today, Alexis is a celebrated writer and activist recognized for her lifelong contributions to a number of women’s and literary organization. With her new work, the award-winning Yabo (2014), Alexis has returned to her first love: writing fiction.
Presented by the Dr. Paul G. Bulger Lecture Series and the Anne Frank Project