Suzan-Lori Parks

  • First Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Suzan-Lori Parks

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Born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, Suzan-Lori Parks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, musician and novelist. 

While at Mount Holyoke, Parks studied under James Baldwin, who encouraged her to become a playwright. In 2002, Parks became the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play “Topdog/Underdog,” which also won the  Outer Critics Circle Award

Parks also writes screenplays, including for Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. She also wrote the screenplay for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” for which Andra Day was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. 

Class year: 1985
Major: English and German; Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, 2001

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent campus news

Love, work and the importance of connection were the overarching themes of a Launching Leadership discussion with Mount Holyoke alums Suzan-Lori Parks ’85 and Debra Martin Chase ’77 after an electrifying performance of Parks’ play “Topdog/Underdog.”

After its successful off-Broadway run, the new play comes home — to where the story all began.

At a gala ceremony, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks accepted the $300,000 Gish Prize, thanking her Mount Holyoke College professors.