Noted author and scholar Ethel Morgan Smith sat down with the Museum Of UnCut Funk and shared her thoughts on some of the greatest female writers during the Black Arts Movement and her personal stories growing up in the South and living and studying in Germany. Smith captures her experiences in her self published books From Whence Cometh My Help: The African American Community at Hollins College and Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany. Our interview with Ethel is below. Thank you Ethel.
Ethel Morgan Smith first received recognition when her essay “Come and Be Black for Me,” was published in more than 100 media outlets throughout the country in 1997. The essay is still being published every year during Black History Month, but now scholars are writing about the essay.
Ethel Morgan Smith grew up in Louisville, Alabama. She holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing/English from Hollins University. While she was a graduate student she learned of a small African-American community in the backdoor of the College. Most of the members of the small community are direct descendants of the enslaved individuals who first arrived at Hollins with the founder of the College and early students, who came to college with their enslaved individuals. As a result of this finding, she published—From Whence Cometh My Help: The African American Community at Hollins College. This compelling work has been called, “a wonderful and astounding combination of historical and personal research.”
Ethel Morgan Smith has published in African American Review, Callaloo, and other international journals. She has received the following awards: Fulbright Fellowship to Germany; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Bellagio, Italy; a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, a fellowship from The Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, and a Dupont Fellowship at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.
In addition, the following work is ready for publication: Blue Notes: Memoirs of an African American in Germany; The House of Flowers (novel) has been a finalist for both the William Faulkner & William Wisdom Creative Writing Contest, and the James Jones Creative Writing Contest. Three chapters from the novel have already been published.
Ethel Morgan Smith is an Associate Professor of English at West Virginia University. She lives in Morgantown with her dog Lucy. Her son Marcus lives and works in the NYC area.