Barbara Ann Teer was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. After graduating from the University of Illinois, Teer moved to New York City to begin her career as an actress, dancer, and director. Teer left her successful career as a Broadway actress in the 1960s to begin teaching in Harlem’s Wadleigh Junior High School. Continuing her work as an educator, Teer helped develop the Group Theatre Workshop. In 1968, she founded the National Black Theatre (NBT) with the goal of maintaining and perpetuating African American cultural traditions, developing a new black theory of acting, and creating economic empowerment through the arts. An historic institute for African-American dramatic arts, NBT was the country’s first revenue-generating black theater arts complex. Wole Soyinka, the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, said, “Barbara Ann Teer…is a fervent researcher into the communication roots of African societies and their classic performance modes.” Teer has toured with the National Black Theatre to Haiti, Bermuda, Trinidad, Guyana, South Africa, Nigeria, and throughout the United States. She was the CEO of the National Black Theatre, which continues to offer classes, lectures, workshops and symposia, and to host musical and dramatic performances.
- “Barbara Ann Teer, 71, Dies; Promoted Black Arts” by Bruce Weber. The New York Times. 25 July 2008.
- “Black Drama with Barbara Ann Teer and Charlie L. Russell.” Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. 1973.
Let Freedom Ring | April 16, 2008
Symposium II | Creativity, Resistance, Liberation: Forms of Political Engagement in the Arts of the 1960s