Holland, Endesha Ida Mae 1944–2006

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Holland, Endesha Ida Mae 1944–2006

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 29, 1944, in Greenwood, MS; died of complications from ataxia, January 25, 2006, in Los Angeles, CA. Educator, activist, and author. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright, Holland was an emeritus professor at the University of Southern California best known for her play From the Mississippi Delta. The daughter of a desperately poor Mississippi family, she knew a life of extreme hardship as a child. Raped by a white man when she was just eleven years old, she would later see prostitution as her only means of income. That changed, however, when she discovered the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and became involved in the Civil Rights movement. This involvement, however, also turned to tragedy when her family became a target of white violence. Her house was burned down, killing her wheelchair-bound mother inside. Holland soon left the South after that. Moving north, she continued her activism by becoming the founding director of Women Helping Offenders, Inc., in Minneapolis from 1971 to 1975, serving as chair from 1975 to 1977. Deciding the best way to try to wash away her feelings of guilt about her past was to become well educated, she attended the University of Minnesota, earning a doctorate in 1986. Holland also found solace in writing, producing the plays Second Doctor Lady (1981), which won the National Lorraine Hansberry award, The Reconstruction of Dossie Ree Hemphill (1981), Miss Ida B. Wells (1982), and Parader without a Permit (1985). Second Doctor Lady, first produced at London's Young Vic Theatre in 1979, would be revised as the Pulitzer-nominated From the Mississippi Delta (1988), which would be produced Off-Broadway with financial backing from talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Holland also had a productive teaching career. She was an instructor in the women's study program, which she helped create, at the University of Minnesota from 1982 to 1985. Moving on to the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was a professor there from 1985 to 1993. Her last position was at the University of Southern California, where she taught until 2003, leaving the school when her ataxia began to hamper her ability to speak. In 1997, she related her life's story in From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir.



Holland, Endesha Ida Mae, From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.


Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2006, p. B9.

New York Times, February 1, 2006, p. A23.

Washington Post, February 4, 2006, p. B6.

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Holland, Endesha Ida Mae 1944–2006

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