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Multicultural Literature for Youth

Author Study: Taylor (1)
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Mildred D.Taylor - Author Study

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Taylor and her daughter, Portia, 2004. Photo by Nancy Jacobs.


 Interesting Facts about Mildred Taylor


  • She was born in Jackson, Mississippi on September 13, 1943. Four months later, her father resettled the family in Toledo, Ohio, where he hoped his family would have more opportunities and face less racism. Many extended family members followed the Taylors to Ohio. Mildred grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins, some of whom lived with the Taylor family.


  • Taylor’s father never stopped loving the south, and he regularly took his wife and children to visit the family who remained there.  “It was during those visits to Mississippi that Taylor learned about family history and storytelling, both which would, years later, become essential to her writing career” (Gale, p. 5).


  • In 1953, Taylor’s family moved to a newly integrated Toledo neighborhood, and Taylor attended an integrated school for the first time. In sixth grade, she was the only Black student in her class. Because she was the “only one,” Taylor felt that she had to excel to prove herself. In high school, she often was “the only one” in her college prep classes (Crowe 1999, 17).  


  • By high school, Taylor knew she wanted to be a writer. She had a “…driving compulsion to paint a truer picture of Black people. I wanted to show the endurance of the Black World, with strong fathers and concerned mothers; I wanted to show happy, loved children…I wanted to show a Black family united in love and pride, of which the reader would like to be a part” (Gale 2005, 4).


  • Taylor’s parents convinced her to major in education at the University of Toledo, although Taylor wanted to major in creative writing or journalism. However, she took many creative writing courses before she graduated in 1965 with majors in Education and English and a minor in history. 


  • From 1965-67, Taylor was a Peace Corps volunteer in Yirgalem, Ethiopia, where she taught English and history. She loved Africa, and living there was one of the happiest times in her adult life. “While living in Africa, she observed Black pride and independence which reminded her of stories her father told her” (Mildred Taylor Teacher Resource File).


  • In 1969, Taylor earned a MA in journalism from the University of Colorado. While a student there, she helped establish the Black Studies Program. After graduation, she worked as a study skills coordinator for the UC Black Studies Program for two years.

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Link to Author Study: Taylor (2)