During the Black Arts Movement, a name change occurred.

Vallery Ferdinand III (1947-1969?)

He was born in New Orleans. After graduating high school in 1964, he enlisted in the army and was stationed to Korea. Ya Salaam would later enroll in the Carelton College and Delgado Junior College, where he would earn an Associates in Business Administration.

Kalamu ya Salaam (1969?-)

kalamu: (Swahili) pen
ya Salaam: (Swahili) of peace

During the Black Arts Movement, he would change his name to a Swahili name meaning “pen of peace.” He was a member of John O’Neal’s Free Southern Theater during this time.

Ya Salaam would become a writer and educator. He worked extensively in New Orleans public schools as the senior staff member of the Students At The Center writing program.

He would also establish a couple of literary societies, such as the Neo-Griot and the Runagate Press.


  • (Image Attribution) OBS onthemove. “KSalaam-4.” Wikipedia. Uploaded on 13 December 2013. CC BY-SA 3.0.
  • About.” Neo-Griot.
  • Kalamu ya Salaam.
  • “Kalamu ya Salaam”, The History Makers.
  • “Kalamu ya Salaam.” Wikipedia.

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