Ntozake means "she who comes with her own things, and Shange means "who walks like a lion."
Shange attended Barnard College (B.A., 1970) and the University of Southern California (M.A., 1973). She taught humanities, women's studies, and Afro-American studies at California colleges from 1972 to 1975. During this period she also made public appearances as a dancer and reciter of poetry. Her 1975 theatre piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf quickly brought her fame.