From her AP obit:
Butler began writing at age 10, and told Howle she embraced science fiction after seeing a schlocky B-movie called "Devil Girl from Mars" and thought, "I can write a better story than that." In 1970, she took a bus from her hometown of Pasadena, Calif., to attend a fantasy writers workshop in East Lansing, Mich.Here's a link to Pam Noles' essay "Shame" about race in sci-fi, which Jenny Davidson pointed us to.
Her first novel, "Kindred," in 1979, featured a black woman who travels back in time to the South to save a white man. She went on to write about a dozen books, plus numerous essays and short stories. Her most recent work, "Fledgling," an examination of the "Dracula" legend, was published last fall.
And here's an Amazon list/guide, So you'd like to... Read a Dozen of the Best Women Writing SF.