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On this date in 1951, Terry McMillan was born. She is a Black novelist.
She was born in Port Huron, MI, the daughter of Madeline and Edward McMillan. McMillan was one of six children who attended public schools. Her father died when she was 16. While working in a public library, she discovered Black author James Baldwin. “I remember feeling embarrassed,” she mentions now, “and did not read his book because I was too afraid. I couldn't imagine that he’d have anything better or different to say than Thomas Mann, Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson.” When she read Baldwin and other classic Black writers, she was astounded and stirred.
For six years until 1979, McMillan attended the University of California at Berkley, graduating with a journalism degree. It was during this time that her short story "The End" was published. She attended Columbia University, earned a Master's degree, attended a workshop at the Harlem Writers Guild, and gave birth to her son, Solomon.
The first draft of her book "Mama" was written after she was accepted at the MacDowell Colony in 1983 and published in 1987. By marketing this novel to the Black public, she proved that Black readers are a good audience and want to be informed and entertained. "Mama" received a National Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. McMillan has been awarded a 1988 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in literature, a 1986 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and the Doubleday/Columbia University Literary Fellowship. She was a three-time fellow at Yaddo Artist Colony and The MacDowell Colony.
In 1988, McMillan became an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, a post she still holds. She has been a Visiting Professor of English at the University of Wyoming and Stanford University.
Her second novel, "Disappearing Act" (1989), did very well, and "Waiting to Exhale" (1992) was on The New York Times best-seller list for months; its paperback rights were sold for $2.64 million. "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1997) was successful, and these last two novels have been made into rewarding feature films. Her book, "A Day Late and A Dollar Short," was published in 2001. Her nonfiction work, "It's OK if You're Clueless," for college-bound students, and "The Interruption of Everything," published in 2001 and 2005.
McMillan married Jonathan Plummer in 1998, who came out as gay during their marriage. In March 2005, she filed for divorce. On July 13, 2012, she sold her 7,000-square home in Danville, California, before moving to Los Angeles, California.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York