Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane (January 13, 1923 to December 3, 2008) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Alexander Gordon (d. 1940) and Inez Addie West Gordon (d 1945). She was the youngest of 4 children, but the only one to live beyond infancy. She attended the Philadelphia School for Girls, graduating in 1940. Lane left her job in a sewing factory in 1945 to enter Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where in 1949 she earned a bachelor's degree in English and art, and began teaching in the public schools of Georgia and Florida (1949-1955). It was during her senior year at Spelman that she met and married Ulysses Simpson Lane (d. 1970) in May 1948.
In 1955 she returned to Atlanta and began working on a master's degree in English from Atlanta University. Upon receiving her degree in 1956, she and her husband left Georgia and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she took a teaching position at Leland College in Baker, La. from 1957-1959. She left Leland to accept a position as instructor of English at Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.). In 1963 she gave birth to her only child, a son, Gordon Edward Lane.
In 1967, Lane became the first African American woman to receive the Ph.D. degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. While continuing her professional development at Southern University, she was promoted to full professor and served as Director of the English department from 1974 until her retirement in 1986.
Lane's literary career began in 1956 when she found some success as a short story writer. She decided upon poetry as her chosen medium and her first published poem appeared in Phylon: The Atlanta University Review of Race and Culture in 1961. In addition to her numerous publications in periodicals, she has published 5 books of poetry: Wind Thoughts (1972), Mystic Female (1978), I Never Scream: New and Selected Poems (1985), Girl at the Window (1991), and Elegy for Etheridge (2000). She has served as editor or contributing editor to anthologies and periodicals such as Poems by Blacks (1973), Discourses on Poetry (1972), Callaloo, and Black Scholar.
Lane has traveled globally, participating in numerous workshops, seminars, and poetry readings throughout the United States, Africa, the Virgin Islands, and Haiti. She has held positions as director of the Melvin A. Butler Poetry Festival, 1974-80; Louisiana State Poet Laureate, 1989-1992; Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame inductee, 1991; Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, 1993-94; and Du Pont Scholar, Bridgewater College, 1994. (Bio: Louisiana State University Library)
Pinkie Gordon Lane Papers, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi
Valley Collections, LSU Libraries
Jerry Ward Jr. Remembers Pinkie Gordon Lane