Riding the Goat ( 1929)
May Miller was born in Washington, D.C., on January 26, 1899, to Annie May Butler and Kelly Miller. May Miller and her four siblings grew up in the John M. Langston house on the Howard University campus where her father served as a sociology professor and scholar. Founder of the Moorland- Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, Professor Miller was sought after by other intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Alain Locke, and Booker T. Washington. The children were encouraged to excel, and May, particularly, was prompted to write poetry and plays by her father who was a poet. May attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School where she was taught by two notable black women dramatists, Angelina Weld Grimke ( Rachel, 1916) and Mary Burrill ( Aftermath, 1919, and They That Sit in Darkness, 1919). She enrolled at Howard University in 1916, and studied drama and participated in the Howard University Dramatic Club, organized by Montgomery Gregory and Alain Locke. Upon completing Howard University, she taught speech, dance, and drama at the Frederick Douglass High School and other schools in Baltimore. She married John Lewis Sullivan, who continued to be supportive of her literary pursuits after she retired from the Baltimore schools in 1944. May Miller Sullivan resides in Washington, D.C., where she continues to write and to share with interested scholars the details of nine decades of living.
A close friend of Georgia Douglas Johnson and a host of African American writers in Washington, D.C., and across the United States, May Miller has watched America grow and change through the twentieth century. Her plays and poetry reflect a society in transition but one that recognizes that people of all color want the same things in life: physical, emotional, and financial security. The bulk of Miller's plays were written between 1920 and 1945; thereafter, she began devoting her efforts to writing stories and poetry, which garnered for her numerous literary awards.