Let's face it. There are not a lot of female authors in the Sci-Fi genre (thought, considerably more than there once were.) And there are even less African-American women writers. So the fact that Octavia Butler is an African-American female sci-fi writer... and did SO much better for herself them most of the men out there, is pretty awesome.
She was born in 1947 and was raised by her mother and her grandmother, her father having passed away when she was just a small child. She started writing science fiction when she was 12. She had watched a bad sci-fi movie and decided that she could do it better. So she turned the tv off, picked up a pen and never put it down again.
Butler recieved multiple awards in her lifetime. She won the Hugo Award a few times for her short stories and the Nebula Award. She also won the MacArthur Fellowship, often called the Genius Grant.
Kindred is probably one of her most well known works, and the one that we'll be reading this week, but Lilith's Brood is also well done. In 2010, she was inducted into the Sci-Fi hall of fame.
Sadly, she passed away in 2006 of a stroke or head injury resulting from a stroke. No one is 100% sure.