Honoree & Participant Bios for the 13th NBWC

13th National Black Writers Conference Participant bios.
(As of March 24, 2016)

2016 NBWC Honorees Bios

Rita Dove1 jpegRita Dove served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995. Among her numerous literary and academic honors are the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Thomas and Beulah, the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama and the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton (making her the only poet to  receive both presidential medals), the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the Heinz Award, and 25 honorary doctorates, the most recent being from Yale University.

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952; her father was the first African-American research chemist in the tire industry.  In 1970, she was named a Presidential Scholar and was  one of that year’s 100 top high school graduates in the U.S. She received her BA summa cum laude from Miami University in 1973 and her MFA from the University of Iowa in 1977. In 1974/75, she studied German literature as a Fulbright Scholar at Universität Tübingen in Germany.

Dove’s publications include nine poetry books (most recently On the Bus with Rosa Parks, American Smooth, and Sonata Mulattica), short story and essay collections, a novel, and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1996 and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Royal National Theatre in London. In 2011, she edited The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1998; and for “America’s Millennium,” the 1999/2000 White House New Year’s celebration Dove contributed, in collaboration with John Williams, Steven Spielberg, and CBS, a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial.

          Dove has served as president of the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs), as senator of Phi Beta Kappa, and as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Early in her academic career, she taught at Tuskegee Institute and Arizona State University. She holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she and her husband, German writer Fred Viebahn, have been living since 1989. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.


Edwidge DanticatEdwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously, and Claire of the Sea Light. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United StatesBest American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir, and Haiti Noir 2. She has written five books for young adults and children: Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, and Mama’s Nightingale, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow. Her most recent book is Untwine, a young adult novel.


Michael Eric Dyson Photo Credit: Nina-Subin
Michael Eric Dyson
Photo Credit: Nina-Subin

Michael Eric Dyson is one of the nation’s most renowned, influential public intellectuals. He is a scholar, ordained Baptist minister, media commentator, political analyst, and prolific, award-winning author. He has been called “a street fighter in a suit and tie” and “the ideal public intellectual of our time,” and he has been acknowledged as “one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today.” Dyson interweaves cultural criticism, race theory, religion, philosophical reflection, and gender studies to provide significant, nuanced insights on modern society. A “hip-hop intellectual,” he bridges gaps between generations, connecting Civil Rights identity to hip-hop culture and educating the general public on the importance of hip-hop, not only in understanding the Black community, but general American culture, as well. His recently published book is The Black Presidency: Barack Obama  and the Politics of Race in America. He is the author of 16 books, including Can You Hear Me Now?: The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson; April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King’s Death and How it Changed America; Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster (for which he won an American Book Award); Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye (a New York Times best seller); Why I Love Black Women (for which he won an NAACP Image Award); Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; and Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture. He has appeared on The Today Show, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and The Colbert Report, and is also the former host of The Michael Eric Dyson Show, an hour-long news and talk program that aired on NPR. Dyson has taught at a string of colleges and universities, including the Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina, Columbia University, DePaul (as the first Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor), and the University of Pennsylvania; currently, he is a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University.


Charles JohnsonCharles Johnson, a 1998 MacArthur Fellow, received the National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage in 1990 and is a 2002 recipient of the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003, he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In a publishing career spanning 50 years, he has published 21 books, including  philosophical novels and short story collections, works of philosophy and literary criticism, cultural essays, comic art, and children’s literature. With a Ph.D. in philosophy, his work has appeared in numerous publications in America and abroad, and six book-length literary studies of his work have been published, most recently Charles Johnson in Context by Linda Furgerson Selzer. In 2003, the Charles Johnson Society was inaugurated at the American Literature Association. A literary scholar, screenwriter, philosopher, international lecturer, and cartoonist with thousands of published drawings and a PBS drawing show he created and hosted in 1970, Johnson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. The year 2015 saw the publication of four titles: The Words and Wisdom of Charles Johnson; Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice; The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder: The Hard Problem, the second work in series of children’s books he coauthors with his daughter and illustrates; and the 25th anniversary edition of Middle Passage. You may visit his website at oxherdingtale.com, and additional information on his work can be found at Charles R. Johnson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Woodie King Jr. jpegWoodie King Jr. is a founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre in New York City. His directorial  credits are extensive and include work in film as well as Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. In 1985, he was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Boesman and Lena, and in the 1987/88 theatrical season, he won an NAACP Image Award for directing Checkmates at Inner City Cultural Center (Los Angeles). In 1988, he directed Checkmates on Broadway in 1987. In 1987, he also directed Charles Dutton in Splendid Mummer at American Place Theatre; in 1990, God’s Trombones at the Ford’s Theatre and Joe Turner’s Come andGone at Detroit Rep. In 1991, he directed A Raisin in the Sun, and in 1992, he directed The Member of the Wedding, both at GeVa. In 1993, he produced and directed Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil, for which he won AUDELCO awards  for Best Director and Best Play of the Year. He directed Checkmates at St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. In 1994, he directed And the World Laughs with You at Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Mudtracks by Regina Taylor at Ensemble Studio Theatre; and A Raisin in the Sun, starring Esther Rolle and Kenny Leon, at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. In the 1996/97 season, he directed Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Samm-Art Williams’s Home, both at Brooklyn College. In the 1998/99 season, he directed Ali at the Crossroads Theatre and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches at Ohio State University; and in 2010, Men in White, also  at Ohio State University. He directed The Piano Lesson at Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville and again at Seminole State College in 2012. Last year, he also directed Lonette McKee in the critically acclaimed Sowa’s Red Gravy.

Woodie King Jr. was a visiting professor at Oberlin College, Florida State University, and Ohio State University. In addition to directing at these universities, he has taught at Yale, Penn State, North Carolina A&T, Columbia, New York University, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College School of Contemporary Studies. King is a graduate of Will-O-Way School of Theatre in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Lehman College in New York; and received his MFA in directing from Brooklyn College. King is the recipient of many awards, including the Paul Robeson Award; the Rosetta LeNoire Award; the TCG Award; an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement; an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Wayne State University; an Honorary Doctorate from both John Jay College and Lehman College; and a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the College of Wooster. In 2012, he was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

13th National Black Writers Conference Bios
(As of March 5, 2016)

2016 NBWC Participant Bios



Meena Alexander 2012 Photo by Mona AipperspachMeena Alexander was described in The Statesman (India) as “undoubtedly one of the finest poets in contemporary times.” She was born in India, raised there and in Sudan, and at the age of 18 went to England to study. Her volumes of poetry include Illiterate Heart (2002) winner of the PEN Open Book Award, Raw Silk (2004) and Birthplace with Buried Stones (2013). She has received awards from the Guggenheim, Fulbright and Rockefeller Foundations, the Arts Council of England and the Imbongi Yesizwe International Poetry Award from South Africa. She is the author of eight books of poetry, two novels, two volumes of essays and the memoir Fault Lines (Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year). Her poetry has been translated and set to music, most recently by the Swedish composer Jan Sandstrom. She is distinguished professor of English at the Graduate Center/ Hunter College, CUNY. www.meenaalexander.com


Keisha-Gaye Anderson jpegKeisha-Gaye Anderson is a Jamaican-born poet and creative writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing, December 2014). Her writing has been published in a number of national literary journals, literary magazines and anthologies, including Writing the Caribbean, Renaissance Noire, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, Streetnotes: Cross Cultural Poetics, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, and othersShe is a past participant of the VONA Voices and Callaloo Creative Writing workshops, and was named a fellow by the North Country Institute for Writers of Color. Anderson has also been short listed for the Small Axe Literary Competition. She is a founding poet with Poets for Ayiti. Proceeds from their 2010 chapbook, For the Crowns of Your Heads, helped to rebuild Bibliotheque du Soleil, a library razed during the earthquake in Haiti. Anderson holds an MFA in creative writing from The City College, CUNY. Her third poetry book will be released this December. Learn more about Anderson at www.keishagaye.com or at facebook.com/keishagayeanderson. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaGaye1.


MK Asante.jpegMK Asante is a best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, hip-hop artist, and tenured professor at Morgan State University. The author of four books, his most recent is the critically acclaimed memoir BUCK. He is currently a Sundance Feature Film Fellow for the movie adaptation of BUCK. He has presented and performed in more than 40 countries and received the Key to the City of Dallas.


Paul Beatty_Credit_HannahAssoulinePaul Beatty is the author of several novels, including The Sellout, Tuff, Slumberland, and The White Boy Shuffle; his poetry collections include Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.



ReShonda T. Billingsley jpegReShonda Tate Billingsley is a former radio and television news reporter, former professor of broadcast journalism, editor for the Houston Defender, ghostwriter, literary consultant, and national best-selling author of 38 books. Her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, was adapted to film and released in 2015. In 2012, Billingsley won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature for her book Say Amen, Again. She has received numerous awards for her journalism, fiction, and poetry, and is a five-time winner of the NABJ Spirit in the Words competition. Considered one of the top inspirational fiction authors in the country, her books remain a staple on many best-sellers lists and have been featured in USA Today and Ebony. Billingsley is the cofounder of the boutique publishing company Brown Girls Books, and in 2010, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.


coe booth - author photoCoe Booth was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She has a master’s degree in psychology and has worked as a counselor for teenagers and families in crisis situations. She also has an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Tyrell, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and her novels Kendra and Bronxwood were selected by the American Library Association as Best Books for Young Adults. Her first middle-grade novel Kinda Like Brothers was selected as an ALA Notable Book for Children and an NPR Best Book of 2014. Booth is on faculty at The New School in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. For more information, visit coebooth.com.


Victoria ChevalierVictoria A. Chevalier holds a PhD from Cornell University in English Languages and Literatures, and is an associate professor of English at Medgar Evers College (CUNY) where she teaches courses in Latin American and U.S. Latino/a literatures, Caribbean Literatures, literary theory and cultural politics. Her book manuscript, currently under peer-review, is entitled Black Things: Trauma, Memory, History in Twentieth Century American Literatures. Black Things focuses on the relationship between the representation of objects and their mediation of traumatic, historical memory.  Her next project, roughly entitled Love and Its Discontents, explores the representation of love and its challenges to the normative in U.S. Latino/African American, and Caribbean literatures. Professor Chevalier has published in Contemporary U.S. Latino/a Literary Criticism, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, and literary fiction anthologies. Her article “Sick of the Symbolic,” which unpacks the passages between Puerto Rican espiritismo/palo monte and Lacanian structures of the Symbolic and the Real, is forthcoming in Formative Iterations: The Conceptual States of Contemporary U.S. Latino/a Literary Theory and Criticism (Columbia UP). Professor Chevalier is a native of Brooklyn, New York, where she lives and works.


FFarai Chideyaarai Chideya brings the human experience alive in media. Publishers Weekly calls her new book, The Episodic Career: How to Thrive at Work in the Age of Disruption, a “smart and savvy” guide to help “forge the best and most fulfilling career path.” A fiction and nonfiction author who has published six books, Chideya is also a broadcaster and a senior writer at the data and political site FiveThirtyEight.com. She has covered every presidential election since 1996, and has interviewed subjects including self-made billionaires, violent criminals, and Katrina survivors. She is a former on-air reporter and host for ABC News, CNN, and NPR, where she hosted the program News and Notes. Chideya was a spring 2012 fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and is a distinguished writer-in-residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.


Breena ClarkeBreena Clarke is the author three novels, having most recently completed Angels Make Their Hope Here, which is set in an imagined mixed-race community in 19th century New Jersey. Breena’s debut novel, River, Cross My Heart (1999), was an Oprah Book Club selection. Her critically reviewed second novel, Stand the Storm, is set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C. Clarke is a member of the board of A Room of Her Own Foundation; a member of the fiction faculty of the Stonecoast MFA Creative Writing Program at The University of Southern Maine; and co-organizer of The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers. She is also author with the late Glenda Dickerson of the play Re/Membering Aunt Jemima: A Menstrual Show. Clarke is represented by The Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency.


Todd CraigDr. Todd Craig is a native of Queens, New York. In 2013, Craig completed his doctorate in English at St. John’s University where he was selected as the Hooding Ceremony Student Keynote Speaker and awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. Craig’s research interests include rhetoric/composition, hip-hop pedagogy, African-American literature, multimodality in the composition classroom and creative writing pedagogy and poetics. His research explores the hip-hop DJ as 21st-century new media reader and writer. With interviews from 90 notable DJs in the hip-hop/music community, his book manuscript entitled SPINificent Revolutions: 360 Degrees of Stylus as Pen examines the function of DJ Rhetoric and Literacy, and its potential contributions to composition classrooms. His most recent publications include poems in The Portable Boog Reader 6: NYC, “…spy verse spy…,” which appears in Staten Island Noir, a crime story anthology series published by Akashic Books and scholarly journal articles in Radical Teacher, the Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Modern Language Studies and Changing English.


Cora DanielsCora Daniels is an author and award-winning journalist. She is the author of Impolite Conversations on Race, Politics, Sex, Money and Religion, GHETTONATION, and Black Power Inc. Her work has appeared in Fortune, The New York Times Magazine, Essence, O, The Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Heart & Soul, Fast Company, and Mens Fitness among others. She was a longtime staff writer at Fortune and editor at Working Mother and Consumer Reports magazines. At Fortune, she spearheaded the magazine’s first ever search for the 50 most powerful black executives, and her award-winning cover story on the original black corporate pioneers created national attention for this overlooked part of civil rights history. Currently, she is a contributor to Essence and part of the journalism faculty at NYU. Daniels is a native New Yorker and lives in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of Yale and Columbia University School of Journalism.


Michael DatcherMichael Datcher did his undergraduate work at University of California, Berkeley and his graduate work at UCLA and UC Riverside. He is the author of the critically acclaimed East St. Louis historical novel Americus and the New York Times best seller Raising Fences—a Today Show Book Club Book of the Month pick. The film rights were originally optioned by actor Will Smith’s Overbrook Productions, who hired Datcher to write the screenplay. He is coeditor of Tough Love: The Life and Death of Tupac Shakur. Datcher’s play Silence was commissioned by and premiered at the Getty Museum. His writing is widely anthologized. Datcher is the former executive director of The World Stage, a literary and jazz education and performance nonprofit in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District. He is editor of The Truth About the Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction. Datcher is on the faculty of Loyola Marymount University’s English Department.


Wallace FordProfessor Wallace Ford was appointed Chair of the Public Administration Department on January 24, 2014. For the past decade, in addition to teaching at Medgar Evers College, Ford has taught Master of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration candidates at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Metropolitan College of New York’s School of Public Affairs, Pace University, John Jay College and La Universidad Externado (Colombia).

Ford entered his position as chair with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, he has held positions ranging from counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Banking to president of the State of New York Mortgage Agency. As the direct appointee of New York State Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo as well as New York City Mayor David Dinkins, he has also served as Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Business Services.

In the private sector, he has managed a venture capital company, worked as an investment banker and as an international corporate attorney.  Since founding Fordworks Associates in 2002, an innovative management consulting and advisory firm based in New York, he has provided advisory and management services for an international client base including the Nigerian Ministry of Finance, the Earth Institute, the Republic of Haiti and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation. Professor Ford brings the same commitment of excellence held for his clients and employees to the students of Medgar Evers College through his focus on an interdisciplinary curriculum needed to comprehensively address the goals and objectives of prospective employers.

Ford brings a clear and focused understanding of the evolution of communications and transactional information to the department with his highly trafficked Point of View contemporary commentary blog, which is read in more than 60 countries, and “The Inclusion Show Weekend Edition with Wallace Ford” a television talk show broadcast nationally on Soul of the South Network. He is also a frequent guest host and commentator on political events and business issues on Arise TV, WBLS Radio and a contributor to Black Renaissance Noire literary magazine. Ford has also published two novels, The Pride (2005) and What You Sow (2007).

Ford was born in Harlem and educated in Japan, Puerto Rico and the United States. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College where he was a Senior Fellow and received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Ford currently resides in Harlem.


Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is an essayist and critic whose writing has appeared in the Believer, The Paris Review, The New York Observer, Bookforum, Transition, Rolling Stone, and The Best Music Writing of 2012. Her Believer essay “If He Hollers Let Him Go” was a 2014 National Magazine Award finalist. She has taught at Columbia University, Bard College, and Eugene Lang College. Read her work at the-rachelkaadzighansah.tumblr.com.


Donna HillDonna Hill began her career in 1987 writing short stories for the confession magazines. Since that time she has more than 70 published titles to her credit since her first novel was released in 1990, and is considered one of the early pioneers of the African-American romance genre.  Three of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been featured in Essence, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Today’s Black Woman, and Black Enterprise among many others. She has received numerous awards for her body of work—which cross several genres—including The Career Achievement Award, the first recipient of The Trailblazer Award, The Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award, The Gold Pen Award among others, as well as commendations for her community service. As an editor, she has packaged several highly successful novels and anthologies, two of which were nominated for awards. Hill has been a writing instructor with the Elders Writing Program sponsored by Medgar Evers College through Poets & Writers. Hill is a graduate of Goddard College with an MFA in creative writing and is currently in pursuit of her Ph.D. in secondary and adult education. She is an adjunct professor of English at Essex County College, Baruch College, and Medgar Evers College. Her other works for Spider Road Press are the poem “Horizons” included in the anthology In The Questions: Poetry by and About Strong Women, and the short essay “Super Mom” in the collection Up Do. Hill’s most recent mystery novel is Murder In The Aisles. Hill lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.


David Kirkland jpeg (2)David E. Kirkland is an associate professor of English and Urban Education at NYU. He taught middle and high school in Michigan, and has also organized youth empowerment and mentoring programs for over a decade. Dr. Kirkland has received numerous awards, including the 2008 American Educational Research Association Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award. He was a 2009–10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2011–12 NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, and is a former National Council of Teachers of English CNV Fellow. His most recent publications include Black Skin, White Masks: Normalizing Whiteness and the Trouble with the Achievement GapEnglish(es) in Urban Contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities; and We Real Cool: Examining Black Males and Literacy. Kirkland’s fifth book, A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Black Males, is a TC Press best seller and winner of the 2014 AESA Critics Choice Award and a 2014 NCTE David H. Russell Award.


Haki R. Madhubuti_Dr.A leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, Haki R. Madhubuti—publisher, editor, educator and activist—has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition. He has published more than 31 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and nonfiction. His Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1990) has sold more than 1 million copies. His publications include Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems 1966-2009 (2009); Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice (2011) and By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented (coeditor, 2012). His poetry and essays were published in more than 85 anthologies from 1997 to 2015. Two book-length critical studies on Madhubuti’s literary works are Malcolm X and the Poetics of Haki Madhubuti by Regina Jennings (2006) and Art of Work: The Art and Life of Haki R. Madhubuti by Lita Hooper (2007).

Professor Madhubuti founded Third World Press in 1967. He is a founder of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept School (1969), and a cofounder of Betty Shabazz International Charter School (1998), Barbara A. Sizemore Middle School (2005), and DuSable Leadership Academy (2005). Madhubuti is an award-winning poet and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award and others. In 2014, Dr. Madhubuti received the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award presented by Poets & Writers Magazine. In 2015, Madhubuti was the first poet to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium at the Library of Congress; and he was honored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in the Fine Arts and he received the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

He is the former University Distinguished Professor and a professor of English at Chicago State University where he founded and was director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. Dr. Madhubuti served as the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University for 2010-11.


Paul D. MillerPaul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. His written work has been published by The Village Voice, The Source, and Artforum, among others, and he is the editor of Origin Magazine. Miller’s work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Miami/Art Basel fair, and many other museums and galleries. Miller’s award-winning book Rhythm Science was published by MIT Press 2004, and was followed by Sound Unbound, an anthology about electronic music and digital media, in 2008. The Book of Ice, an experiential visual and acoustic portrait of the Antarctic, was published in 2011 by Random House.

Miller has collaborated with a vast array of recording artists, ranging from Metallica to Chuck D; Steve Reich to Yoko Ono. His large scale, multimedia performance pieces include “Rebirth of a Nation,” “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica,” which was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the Next Wave Festival 2009, and “Seoul Counterpoint,” written during his residency at Seoul Institute of the Arts in 2014. Miller was the first artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he premiered his work “A Civil War Symphony” in 2013. In 2014, Miller was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, an honor recognizing visionaries at the forefront of global problem solving. Current projects and recent releases include “Peace Symphony,” commissioned by UN Peace Boat, “Hidden Code,” a new planetarium show commissioned by Dartmouth College in collaboration with Museum of Science Boston, “Forest Symphony” commissioned by Oregon State University, the CD/DVD of “Rebirth of a Nation” on Cantaloupe Music, a new dancehall/reggae remix release from VP Records, and the publication of his fourth book, The Imaginary App from MIT Press.


Joan Morgan pic (1)Joan Morgan  is an award-winning feminist author and doctoral candidate in NYU’s American Studies program. A pioneering hip-hop journalist, Morgan coined the term “hip-hop feminism” in 1999, when she published the groundbreaking book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. Her book has been used in college coursework across the country. Regarded internationally as an expert on the topics of hip-hop and gender, Morgan has made numerous television and radio appearance —among them MTV, BET, VH-1, CNN, WBAI’s The Spin: The All Women’s Media Panel and The Melissa Harris Perry Show. Morgan has been a Visiting Instructor at Duke University where she taught “The History of Hip-Hop Journalism,” a Visiting Research Scholar at Vanderbilt University and Visiting Lecturer at Stanford University’s Institute for the Diversity of the Arts where she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 “Dr. St. Clair Drake Teaching Award” for her course “The Pleasure Principle: A Post-Hip Hop Search for a Black Feminist Politics of Pleasure.” She is the first Visiting Scholar to ever receive the award.


CROPPED-Marcyliena MorganMarcyliena Morgan Marcyliena Morgan is a professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and founding director of The Hiphop Archive and Research Institute (HARI) at Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.  She earned both her BA and her MA degrees at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She also earned an MA in linguistics at the University of Essex, England and her PhD through the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the author of many works that focus on youth, gender, racism, language, culture, identity, sociolinguistics, discourse and interaction. These include the Daedulus (2011) publication Hiphop and the Global Imprint of a Black Cultural Form (with Dionne Bennett), “The World is Yours’: The Globalization of Hip-hop Language” in the ejournal Social Identities (2016). Among her book publications are: Language, Discourse and Power in African American Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2002), The Real Hiphop: Battling for Knowledge, Power, and Respect in the Underground (Duke University Press, 2008), and Speech Communities with (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She is currently launching projects on the HARI website (hiphoparchive.org) and Harvard’s Loeb Music Library on the Classic Crates archive of 200 of the most influential hip-hop albums.


Photo Credit: Terrence Jennings

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He is a former associate professor of History at Indiana University and the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies. His scholarship has been featured in a number of national print and broadcast media outlets, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR, and MSNBC. Muhammad is a former associate editor of The Journal of American History and former Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice, as well as the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including two honorary doctorates from The New School and Bloomfield College, Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40, Ebony Power 100, and The Root 100.


Nnedi OkoraforNnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist. Okorafor’s novels include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Akata Witch (an Amazon Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her latest works include The Book of Phoenix and her novella Binti. Okorafor is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). Learn more at Nnedi.com


James PetersonJames Peterson is the director of Africana Studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University, a media contributor, and the founder of Hip Hop Scholars, an association of hip-hop generational scholars dedicated to researching and developing the cultural and educational potential of hip-hop, urban, and youth cultures. Applying his journalistic skills and ethnographic training toward innovative academic inquiry, he has trained teachers for the greater part of a decade, working with them to incorporate innovative methods for teaching students from all backgrounds. Dr. Peterson has written numerous scholarly articles on multiculturalism, African-American literature, culture, linguistics, and urban studies; he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Callaloo, Criticism, Black Arts Quarterly, XXL, African American Review, The Root, and SLAM. He is currently working on his first academic book, Major Figures: Critical Essays on Hip Hop Music, focusing on mortality and commercial culture in the hip-hop world.


Phillips Rowan Ricardo (c) Sue Kwon-1Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of The Ground (FSG, 2012), which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and the NAACP Image Award for Poetry, and Heaven (FSG 2015), named one of the best of 2015 by NPR and The Washington Post, among others, and which was long-listed for both the National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award. Also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers’ Award, Phillips lives in New York City and Barcelona.


Kiini I. SalaamjpegKiini Ibura Salaam is a writer, painter, and traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work is rooted in eroticism, speculative events, women’s perspectives, and artistic freedom. She has been widely published and anthologized in such publications as the Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, and Colonize This! anthologies, as well as Essence, Utne Reader, and Ms. magazines. Her short story collection Ancient, Ancient—winner of the 2012 James Tiptree Jr. Award—contains sensual tales of the fantastic, the dark, and the magical. Her microessays on writing can be found at www.kiiniibura.com. Her second collection, When the World Wounds, is forthcoming from Third Man Books in 2016.


Akiba SolomonAkiba Solomon is the editorial director of Colorlines. She is an NABJ award-winning journalist and 2015 The Root 100 awardee who has has written about culture and the intersection of gender and race for Colorlines, Ebony, and Dissent. As Colorlines’ inaugural reporting fellow, Solomon reported on reproductive health access for women of color during and immediately after President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A Brooklyn-based, Howard University graduate, she wrote Essence magazine’s July 2015 cover story featuring Orange Is the New Black cast members; in the fall of 2015, she was selected by the Foundation for Middle East Peace to travel to Israel/Palestine to experience the region’s difficult political dynamics and understand the lives of the citizens. In September 2014, shortly after Michael Brown’s death, she was one of few journalists allowed on a Black Lives Matter “freedom ride” from New York City to Ferguson, Missouri.


Johnny Temple jpegJohnny Temple is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction that earned the American Association of Publishers’ 2005 Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing. Temple is the editor of the anthology USA Noir, which was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice and includes stories from Dennis Lehane, Jonathan Safran Foer, Joyce Carol Oates, and others. Temple has taught courses on publishing at Wilkes University, Wesleyan University, and Pratt Institute, and is the chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council, which organizes the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. He also plays bass guitar in the band Girls Against Boys, which has toured extensively across the globe and released numerous albums with independent and major record companies.


Sheree Renee Thomas2Sheree Renée Thomas edited the groundbreaking anthologies Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (Warner/Hachette, winner of the 2001 & 2005 World Fantasy Awards). She is the author of Sleeping Under the Tree of Life and Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems (Aqueduct Press, Conversation Pieces Vol. 28), described by novelist Arthur Flowers as “a wondrous work like Jean Toomer’s Cane.

A fiction writer, editor, and poet based in Memphis, Thomas was named a 2016 Tennessee Arts Fellow and was honored as the 2015 Lucille Geier Lakes Writer-in-Residence at Smith College. She has also been honored with fellowships and residencies with Cave Canem, NYFA, The Millay Colony of the Arts, VCCA, Art Omi/Ledig House, and Blue Mountain Center. Her work appears in African Voices, Callaloo, Meridians, Mythic Delirium, Obsidian: Literature of the African Diaspora, Renaissance Noire, StorySouth, Harvard’s Transition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and in anthologies such as Memphis Noir (Akashic Press), Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, Nikky Finney’s The Ringing Ear, Nalo Hopkinson’s Mojo: Conjure Stories (Warner/Hachette), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Crown Books), Circe’s Lament, The Moment of Change: Feminist Speculative Poetry, 80! Memories & Recollections of Ursula K. Le Guin, and So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy.


D. WatkinsD. Watkins is a columnist for Salon and a professor of creative writing at the University of Baltimore. His work has been published in the New York Times, Guardian, Rolling Stone and other publications. He holds a Master of Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Baltimore. He is the founder of the BMORE Writers Project and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a BME Fellowship.

Watkins debut collection of essays, The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America, is available now and his memoir The Cook-Up, will be released by Grand Central in May 2016.


2012_AfaaWeaver-4Afaa M. Weaver (formerly Michael S. Weaver) is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and a veteran of 15 years as a factory worker there in his hometown. The author of 14 collections of poetry and several plays, Weaver’s lifelong engagement with Chinese culture is the underpinning of his award-winning Plum Flower Trilogy, which includes The Plum Flower Dance (2007), The Government of Nature (2014 Kingsley Tufts Award), and City of Eternal Spring (2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Award). His other awards in poetry include a NEA fellowship (1985) a Pew fellowship (1998) four Pushcart Prizes, inclusion in Best American Poetry (2014, 2015), and the May Sarton Award (2008). In playwriting, he has received the PDI Award. Weaver completed his graduate work in creative writing at Brown in 1987, and he currently teaches at Simmons College and in the Drew University MFA program. His website is: www.afaaweaver.net


Author Cathie Wright-Lewis is a lover of linguistics, ancient history, education and metaphysics. Simultaneously quenching her thirst for a daily dose of discourse with classic authors and molding young minds, she served the New York City public school system as a high school English teacher for 30 years.

A native of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and a participant in the bussing program to achieve racial integration during the sixties, she was exposed early in life to diverse cultures and dialects of the English Language. Wright-Lewis found the language, culture and political struggle intriguing. They all laid the foundation for her future as an educator, writer and activist.

Consequently, her first novel, Maurya’s Seed-Why Hope Lives Behind Project Walls in 2001, depicts Brooklyn’s explosive reaction to the murder of an innocent nine- year-old black boy by the police in 1963, a chapter of the Civil Rights Era and its impact on education and the challenged people of inner-city communities.

In 1993, eight years before the horrific 9/11 terror attacks, Wright-Lewis wrote a poem titled “Terror at the Towers.” Serving as the basis for Passions Pride, the poem literally describes the towers crumbling, but not because of the Taliban; avenging the desecration of their graves are the very African captives who initially built the Wall Street community. Their bones remain beneath the buildings in the Wall Street area.

Although people of African descent have fought and won the right to memorialize some of the bones and construct The African Burial Ground Memorial, Ms. Wright-Lewis believes many more bones of African slaves and victims of 9/11 still exist at Ground Zero, and that constructing anything but a memorial at that site would be a sacrilege.

Wright-Lewis continues to use the art of writing as activism for the rights of the voiceless and a vehicle for teaching writing and literature through culture, history, and spirituality.