BLAAC Founder, Poet, Community Organizer & Educator
Terri L Bailey was born and raised in Gainesville, FL. As a youth, she survived poverty, domestic and sexual abuse, and the low expectations of those who were supposed to guide her. In 11th grade she dropped out of school, but within a year moved to Atlanta where she graduated from Atlanta Job Corps, with her GED and a Clerk Typist Certificate. At 40, she enrolled in Bethune Cookman University where she received a B.S. in Elementary Education and the academic honor Magna Cum Laude. In 2016, she earned an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University with the distinction of Outstanding Graduate Student. This year, Bailey became a certified Life Coach and EFT/TFT Practitioner.
Terri’s storytelling career began at an early age. Her mother often asked, “Girl, is this the truth or one of your stories?”. She was motivated to improve her writing skills after reading Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed at 14. Wild Seed empowered her to expand from writing fairy tales and teen dramas to poetry, ghost stories, and science fiction. In addition, she started her life as an organizer and advocate at her predominately white high school, where she organized students to fight for the addition of soul and disco music at school dances. The effort was successful and began her journey into her role as an activist.
Terri is the Founder of the Bailey Learning and Arts Collective (BLAAC2Basics), a community outreach agency that focusses on community education, outreach, and the arts. BLAAC’s latest program, The Queens Room (QR) is a return to her women’s self-help and empowerment roots. (Bailey worked with the National Black Women’s Health Project (NBWHP), the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Center, and SisterLove, Inc.) QR’s first project is the Writing to Heal workshop series, which uses self-help tools and writing to transform negative narratives and demonstrate the value of one’s personal story.
Ms. Bailey feels that writing has been a saving grace throughout her life. She published in a variety of publications, including the NBWHP’s newsletter, Vital Signs, and Bethune Cookman’s literary magazine, Emotions – Pure Pleasure with Poetry and Prose. She won 1st place in Cookman’s 2009 Creative Writing Contest for her sci-fi short story, The Journey. She is passionate about spoken word. Her performances include the 2011 Zora Neale Hurston Festival with the If You Ask A Sistah Poetry Collective, the 2011 SisterSong Reproductive Rights Conference Leadership Plenary, and Voices of Gainesville in 2018. This year she served as organizer, MC, and poet for the City of Gainesville’s: A Poetic and Visual Celebration of Black Life Culture and Love and performed in the University of Florida’s MLK celebration at the Harn Museum. She is currently working on a book of short stories, a collection of poems about Black life in her hometown titled Gainesville Proper.
Terri Bailey lives in Gainesville, FL, in her beloved Pleasant Street District (Gainesville’s oldest Black settlement) with her husband, artist Turbado Marabou and daughter Aaliyah, who has severe cerebral palsy and keeps her parents planning and plotting new adventures every day.