Marta Effinger-Crichlow, Ph.D.

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Marta Effinger-Crichlow, Ph.D.
Chair, Associate Professor of Theater and Literature,
African American Studies Department, New York
City College of Technology of the
City University of New York (CUNY)
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Marta Effinger-Crichlow, Ph.D., developed a knack for storytelling as a child by listening to stories told by the women in her family about her great-grandmother, who grew up in the South and labored as a domestic worker. “The repeated telling of stories about my great-grandmother inspired my interest in Black women’s narratives,” she explains. Effinger-Crichlow turned this interest into a successful career that has inspired her work as a playwright, dramaturg, scholar and professor. Her plays include: “The Kitchen is Close Startin’ Sunday,” “Whispers Want to Holler,” “You Dig” and “Union Station,” which received the esteemed Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award.

Effinger-Crichlow received an interdisciplinary doctorate in theatre and drama from Northwestern University, a master’s from Yale University, and a bachelor’s from the University of Pittsburgh. Besides her family, Effinger-Crichlow credits the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., with setting an early foundation for her success. “The arts are a wonderful way to teach young people about process,” explains Effinger-Crichlow. “Plenty of individuals are talented, but one must be disciplined in order to hone their craft.”

Paying these early lessons forward, Effinger-Crichlow inspires new students each semester as chair and associate professor in the African American StudiesDepartment at New York City College of Technology (CUNY). Tenured since 2008, she implements and oversees a curriculum that focuses on African people throughout the diaspora. Her book, Staging Migrations Toward an American West: From Ida B. Wells to Rhodessa Jones, is scheduled to be published by University Press of Colorado in June.

In the spirit of creating new family stories to pass on to the next generation, Effinger-Crichlow says that if she had the time and money she would travel with her husband and young daughter to every continent in the world.