"I write to tell the truth about the Black condition as I see it … The most fundamental truth to be told in any art form, as far as the Blacks are concerned, is that America is killing us. But we continue to live and love and struggle and win."
She taught at San Francisco State College, Rutgers University, Amherst College, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Sanchez held the Laurel Carnell chair in English at Temple University, where she also was the first presidential fellow.
In 1970, she married a poet, Etheridge Knight; However that union ended in divorce.
Sanchez put the tenents of black aesthetic into practice, in her poetry; meanwhile she demonstrated her unique talent via voicing the concerns, attitudes, and the intentions of African-Americans, particularly black women.
She is also recognized for her ongoing efforts in initiating black studies courses and programs. Sanchez stresses the needs of the black community, she advocates for recognition of the connections among curriculum, liberation and self-pride, in addition to intercultural exchange.
Her numerous other books of poetry include Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, It's a New Day, Love Poems, I've Been a Woman, Under the Soprano Sky, and Autumn Blues.
The writer of a half-dozen plays, in addition to short fiction, Sanchez has edited two anthologies: Three Hundred and Sixty Degrees of Blackness Comin' at You, a poetry collection, and We be Word Sorcerers: Twenty-Five Stories by Black Americans.
The first two poems below, "blk/rhetoric" and "Summer Words of a Sistuh Addict", exhibit the themes and style characteristic of Sanchez's work in the late 1960s. The poem "elegy" from the 1987 volume, has more conventional spelling and syntax while maintaining the poet's ongoing political concerns.
a disguised southern city
squatting in the eastern pass of
colleges cathedrals & cowboys.
philadelphia, a phalanx of parsons
erasing the delirium of death from their shields
while houses burn out of control.
c’mon girl hurry on down to osage st
they’re roasting in the fire
smell the dreadlocks and blk/skins
roasting in the fire.
c’mon newsmen and tvmen
hurryondown to osage st and
when you have chloroformed the city
and after you have stitched up your words
hurry on downtown for sanctuary
in taverns and corporations
and the blood is not yet dry.
how does one scream in thunder?
they are combing the morning for shadows
and screams tongue-tied without faces
look, over there, one eye
escaping from its skin
and our heartbeats slowdown to a drawl
and the kingfisher calls out from his downtown capital
and the pinstriped general reenlists
his tongue for combat
and the police come like twin seasons of drought and flood.
they’re combing the city for life liberty and
the pursuit of happiness.
how does one city scream in thunder?
hide us O lord
deliver us from our nakedness.
exile us from our laughter
give us this day our rest from seduction
peeling us down to our veins.
and the tower was like no other. amen.
and the streets escaped under the
cover of darkness amen.
and the voices called out from
their wounds amen.
and the fire circumcised the city amen.
who anointeth the city with napalm? (i say)
who giveth this city in holy infanticide?
beyond the mornings and afternoons
and deaths detonating the city.
beyond the tourist roadhouses
trading in lobotomies
there is a glimpse of earth
this prodigal earth.
beyond edicts and commandments
commissioned by puritans
there are people navigating the breath of hurricanes.
beyond concerts and football
and mummers strutting their
there is this earth. this country. this city.
collecting skeletons from waiting rooms
lying in wait. for honor and peace.
*MOVE a Philadelphia based backed to nature group whose headquarters was bombed by the police on May 13, 1985, killing men, women and children. An entire city block was destroyed by fire.