VICTORIA MARGARET TAYLOR was born November 1, 1917, on All Saints Day in Elkinsville Subdivision, St. Rose, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of Alexander Taylor and Octavia Pierre Taylor. Alexander was a farmer and a laborer at a railroad warehouse. Her mother Octavia was a hardworking domestic.
Like so many millions of others African Americans parents in the late 19th Century and 20th Century, Margaret Taylor’s parents moved north to Chicago in 1923 during the Great Migration looking for a better life for themselves and their five-year-old daughter Margaret. Margaret thrived superlatively in her new environment taking advantage of every opportunity afforded her. She would establish herself as an educator, a prolific writer, poet, and visual artist. At the very young age of 23, she co-founded the Chicago South Side Community Art Center in 1939. First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt was in attendance at the opening dedication. Throughout her life, Margaret stayed true to her southern roots always connecting with family in the little town where she was born.
Margaret attended public schools in Chicago and graduated from Englewood High School in 1933. She earned her Teachers Certificate in 1937 at Chicago’s Normal College and continued her studies at Chicago Teachers College and the Art Institute of Chicago earning her Bachelor of Education in Art Education in 1946. In 1948, Margaret earned a Master of Arts degree.
Taylor became a prolific writer exploring the Black experience. She had a particular interest in helping children with their cultural identity as well as introducing them to art awareness.
Margaret spent most of her career at DuSable High School (1946-1969). During these years she produced a series of children’s books. In 1947 she produced her first children’s book titled Jasper, The Drummin Boy. In 1968 she published her own book of poetry titled What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black? A second volume of poems Africa, My Africa was published in 1070. From 1969 until 1974, she was a Professor of Humanities at Kennedy King Community College in Chicago.
Margaret Taylor Burroughs and her husband Dr. Charles Burroughs established the Ebony Museum of Negro History & Art in Chicago, the first museum of African American history and culture in the United States. According to an article from The Historic New Orleans Quarterly (Fall 2017) by Judith Bonner, the museum was renamed the DuSable Museum of African American History; the museum has grown from an original 100 artifacts to over 100,000.
In 1939 Margaret Taylor married artist Bernard Goss and they divorced in 1947. The couple had one daughter, Gayle Goss Toller. In 1949 she married Charles Gordon Burroughs and they remained married for 45 years. They had a son Paul Burroughs.
MARGARET TAYLOR GOSS BURROUGHS died in her Chicago South Side home on November 21, 2010. According to the article by Bonner, after her death, President Barack Obama issued a statement noting that Burroughs “was widely admired for her contributions to American culture as an esteemed artist, historian, educator, and mentor.”