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Dannee Smith
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During her journey as a creative writing major, Danne faced a seemingly daunting challenge while at Carnegie Mellon University, a predominantly white research institution: how to maintain her voice as a Black writer. Then, Danne had the unique fortune of exposure to the work of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, August Wilson, when she began to attend the productions of the Kuntu Repertory Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh. During this pivotal time of preparation for her professional writing career, the late Rob Penny bought Wilson’s play “Homecoming” to a theater production. Shortly thereafter, Wilson and Penny began to mentor Danne weekly after she began to attend the Kuntu Writers’ Workshop where Danne found a collaboration haven with other African-American writers. Years later, Danne returned to Carnegie Mellon at the request of the leadership of the Carnegie Mellon Black Alumni Association (CMBAA), to write and produce the documentary: “Decades in Black: The 100-Year History of the Black Student at Carnegie Mellon University (1900-2000)” which premiered as part of the university’s 2001 Centennial celebration.

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