Beverly Guy-Sheftall

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Beverly Guy-Sheftall (born June 1, 1946, in Memphis, Tennessee) is a Black feminist scholar, writer and editor, who is the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the founding director of the Spelman College Women's Research and Resource Center, the first at a historically Black college or university.[1]


Beverly was born to Walter and Ernestine Varnado-Guy in Memphis. She graduated high school at the age of 16 and attended Spelman College, where she graduated in 1966.[2] She received an M.A. from Atlanta University in English and a PhD from Emory University in 1984 from the Institute of Liberal Arts.[3] She founded the Spelman Women's Research and Resources Center in 1981, the first of its kind at a historically Black college or university.[4] The Center also hosts the first Women's Studies program at a historically Black college or university.[5] In 1983, she became one of the founding co-editors of Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women.[6]

Guy-Sheftall's publications include the 1995 anthology Words of Fire, about which one reviewer (Kamili Anderson) has written: "Fire can be used to burn down, burn away or burn through. Metaphorically, Words of Fire does all three. The works it includes are conventional and controversial, reaffirming and disarming. Their overall effect is overwhelming. With uncommon command and unparalleled thoroughness, the image of African-American women as progenitors, participants and propellants in the feminist movement emerges from Words of Fire — 'a stronger soul within a finer frame'".[7]

She contributed the piece "African American Women: The Legacy of Black Feminism" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.[8]

In 2004, students in her Feminist Theory class touched off a national conversation regarding the lyrics and depictions of women in music videos when they decided to engage rapper Nelly about his video "Tip Drill."[9]

In 2013, she was a featured feminist in the 2013 PBS documentary Makers: Women Who Make America, which highlighted feminist history.[10] In 2017, Dr. Guy-Sheftall was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[11]


  • Roseann P. Bell, ed. (1979). Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press. ISBN 978-0-385-13347-0.
  • Beverly Guy Sheftall, ed. (1995). Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought. The New Press. ISBN 978-1-56584-256-4.
  • Rudolph P. Byrd, Beverly Guy Sheftall, ed. (2001). Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33901-0.
  • Johnnetta B. Cole, Beverly Guy Sheftall (2003). Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities. One World/Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-45412-6.
  • Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes toward Black Women, 1880–1920. Carlson Pub. 1990. ISBN 978-0-926019-17-1.



  1. ^ "Beverly Guy-Sheftall". Spelman College.
  2. ^ "EducationMakers | Beverly Guy-Sheftall". The History Makers. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Carini, Susan M. "Hangin' with the NWSA". Emory Center for Women Newsletter. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  4. ^ "Women's Research & Resource Center". Spelman College. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Groer, Annie (February 25, 2013). "Fifty years of feminism in 'Makers: Women Who Make America'". Washington Post. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Beverly Guy-Sheftall". The Feminist Press City University of New York. Archived from the original on May 18, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  7. ^ Kamili Anderson, "Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought. – book reviews", Diverse, June 19, 2007.
  8. ^ "Library Resource Finder: Table of Contents for: Sisterhood is forever : the women's anth". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  9. ^ Bailey, Moya (May 23, 2004). "Dilemma". AlterNet. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  10. ^ Marcotte, Amanda (February 27, 2013). "PBS Gives Feminist History Its Due in Three-Hour Documentary, But Skimps on Today". Slate. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  11. ^ Spelman College. "Beverly Guy-Sheftall Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  12. ^ "CANDACE AWARD RECIPIENTS 1982-1990, Page 1". National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Archived from the original on March 14, 2003.

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