was born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Alabama. She earned a B.A. in political science from Hunter College in 1955 and did postgraduate work at New York University.
During the early 1960s she was an integrationist. But after considering the ideas of Black Muslim leader Malcolm X, she focused more on her black heritage from a separatist point of view. She began teaching at what is now San Francisco State University in 1965, pioneering black studies there. In 1971 she joined the Nation of Islam, but by 1976 she had left the Nation, largely because of its repression of women.
Ms. Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Homegirls and Handgrenades
(2007), Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems
(1999); Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems
(1998); Does your house have lions?
(1995), which was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award; Wounded in the House of a Friend
(1995); Under a Soprano Sky
(1987); Homegirls & Handgrenades
(1984), which won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; I've Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems
(1978); A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women
(1973); Love Poems
(1973); Liberation Poem
(1970); We a BaddDDD People
(1970); and Homecoming
She has received the Robert Frost medal, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and a National Endowment for the Arts Award for poetry.
She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She lives in Philadelphia.