In 1992 Mona Van Duyn was the first woman to be named U.S. poet laureate.
The next year Rita Dove became the first African American to receive this honor. As an indication of the growing esteem for women poets, Maya Angelou was asked to read one of her poems at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.
In 1983 composer Ellen Taaffe Zwillich became the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in music; in 1991 Shulamit Ran became the second woman to receive this award.
During the 1980s three women playwrights won the PulitZer Prize: Beth Henley, Marsha Norman, and Wendy Wasserstein.
In 1996 Anna Deaveare Smith received a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation after writing and performing two highly praised pieces about racism.