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African American Poet Margaret Taylor Burroughs 1917 - 2010

Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (November 11, 1917 – November 21, 2010) was a prominent African American artist and writer and a co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History. She also helped to establish the South Side Community Art Center, whose opening on May 1, 1941 was dedicated by the First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt . There at the age of 23 she served as the youngest member of its board of directors. Dr. Burroughs was a prolific writer, with her efforts directed toward the exploration of the Black experience and to children, especially to their appreciation of their cultural identity and to their introduction and growing awareness of art.

Dr. Burroughs is also credited with the founding of Chicago's Lake Meadows Art Fair in the early 1950s. At its inception there were very limited venues and galleries for African American Artists to exhibit and sell their artwork, so Dr. Burroughs launched the Fair, which rapidly grew in popularity and became one of the most anticipated exhibitions for artists, collectors and others throughout the greater Chicago area. After a brief hiatus beginning in the early 1980s, it was resurrected by Helen Y. West in 2005 - and another of Margaret Burroughs' legacies lives on.

Burroughs was born in St. Rose, Louisiana, and by the time she was five years old the family had moved to Chicago. There she attended Englewood High School along with Gwendolyn Brooks, who in 1985-1986 served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (now United States Poet Laureate). As classmates, the two joined the NAACP Youth Council. She earned teacher's certificates from Chicago Teachers College in 1936 and 1939, and in 1948 earned her Masters in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago after having earned her Bachelor's there in 1946. Taylor-Burroughs married the artist Bernard Goss (1913–1966) in 1939, and they divorced in 1947. In 1949 she married Charles Gordon Burroughs, and they had been married for forty-five years at the time he died in 1994.

Professional life

Taylor-Burroughs taught at DuSable High School from 1946 to 1969, and from 1969 to 1979 was a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College, a community college in Chicago. She also taught African American Art and Culture at Elmhurst College in 1968.

The DuSable Museum

Margaret and her husband Charles co-founded what is now called the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago in 1961. The institution was originally known as the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art and made its debut in the living room of their house at 3806 S. Michigan Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's south side , and Taylor-Burroughs served as its executive director for the first ten years of its existence. She was proud of the institution's grass-roots beginnings: "...we’re the only one that grew out of the indigenous Black community. We weren’t started by anybody downtown; we were started by ordinary folks.”

The museum moved to its current location at 740 E. 56th Place in Washington Park in 1973, and today is the oldest museum of Black culture in the United States.

Public art and recognition

The holdings of the Koehnline Museum of Art at Oakton Community College include a collection of fifteen of Burroughs' linocut prints from the 1990s.

Taylor-Burroughs won the Paul Robeson Award in 1989.

Selected works

  • Jasper, the drummin' boy (1947)
  • Whip me whop me pudding, and other stories of Riley Rabbit and his fabulous friends (1966)
  • What shall I tell my children who are Black? (1968)
  • Did you feed my cow? Street games, chants, and rhymes (1969)
  • For Malcolm; poems on the life and the death of Malcolm X Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs, editors (1969)
  • Africa, my Africa (1970)
  • What shall I tell my children?: An addenda (1975)
  • Interlude : seven musical poems by Frank Marshall Davis, Margaret T. Burroughs, editor. (1985)
  • Minds flowing free : original poetry by "The Ladies" women's division of Cook County Department of Corrections, Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, editor (1986)
  • A very special tribute in honor of a very special person, Eugene Pieter Romayn Feldman, b. 1915-d. 1987 - poems, essays, letters by and to Eugene Pieter Romayn Feldman Margaret T. Burroughs, editor (1988)
  • His name was Du Sable and he was the first (1990)
  • Africa name book (1994)
  • A shared heritage : art by four African Americans by William E. Taylor and Harriet G. Warkel with essays by Margaret T.G. Burroughs and others (1996)
  • The Beginner's Guide to Collecting Fine Art, African American Style Ana M. Allen and Margaret Taylor Burroughs (1998)
  • The tallest tree in the forest (1998)
  • Humanist and glad to be (2003)
  • My first husband & his four wives (me, being the first) (2003)

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Submitted By Omss Group