Erma Clanton, Memphis educator and playwright, passes away at 98

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Longtime Memphis educator and playwright Erma Clanton passed away this week. She was 98 years old.

Clanton was born in Memphis in 1923. She was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and Alabama State University.

Clanton later taught English and speech at Melrose High before becoming an associate professor of theater and communication at what was then Memphis State University in 1970.

During her time at the U of M, Clanton created several plays, including “An Evening of Soul.”

She is called the mother of black theater, and she got people involved from sidelines to the main stage of life in Memphis, at the University of Memphis and at Melrose High School.

Clanton retired in 1991, but continued to direct and create plays.

Many of those young people who she taught are now teaching another generation.

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