Honoree Bios for 14th National Black Writers Conference

2018 NBWC Honoree Bios

Steven Barnes has published more than three million words of fiction, covering more than 30 novels of science fiction, horror, and suspense. His television work includes the Emmy Award-winning “A Stitch in Time” episode of The Outer Limits and episodes of The Twilight Zone, Andromeda, and Stargate SG-1.  Winner of the NAACP Image Award (for In the Night of the Heat, written with his wife, Tananarive Due, and actor Blair Underwood), Barnes is a founding pioneer of the literary Afro-futurism movement. His latest novel, Twelve Days, was published by Tor Books (2017).




Kwame Dawes is the author of 20 books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. In 2016, his book Speak from Here to There, a co-written collection of verse with Australian poet John Kinsella appeared. His most recent collection, City of Bones: A Testament (Northwestern University Press) was published in 2017. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival.



Tananarive Due is the former Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Humanities at Spelman College (2012–2014). She teaches Afro-futurism and Black Horror at UCLA and in the creative writing and screenwriting MFA programs at Antioch University Los Angeles/Santa Barbara. The American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient is the author of seven solo novels; the coauthor of six novels with her husband, Steven Barnes; and coauthor of a civil rights memoir, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (with her late mother, Patricia Stephens Due). In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University. She received a 2017 British Fantasy Award for her short story collection Ghost Summer, and in 2013 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Her writing blog is at www.tananarivedue.wordpress.com.


David Levering Lewis’s field is comparative history with special focus on 20th-century U.S. social history, imperialism in 19th-century Africa, 20th-century France, and Muslim Iberia. He holds graduate history degrees from Columbia (MA, ’59) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD, ’63). He has taught at the University of Notre Dame, Howard University, University of California-San Diego; Rutgers-New Brunswick; and Harvard. In 2002, Mr. Lewis relinquished the Rutgers professorship established in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. He joined New York University’s history department in 2003 as Julius Silver Professor. He became Julius Silver University Professor and professor of history in 2005.

Mr. Lewis has written nine books and compiled several editions. A historian of the French Third Republic, he wrote Prisoners of Honor: The Dreyfus Affair, based on new material from French military archives. Prisoners of Honor had been temporarily set aside to write King: A Critical Biography (1970, rev. ed. 1978, 2013) for Allen Lane the Penguin Press, U.K., the first scholarly biography of Dr. King. Lewis’s civil rights history excursion led him to write a history of the Harlem Renaissance, When Harlem Was in Vogue for Alfred Knopf (1980). Third Republic interests, combined with a lectureship at the University of Ghana, inspired Lewis to write The Race to Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance to the Scramble for Africa (1988, rev. ed. 1994). W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 (1993) received in 1994, respectively, the Bancroft Prize in American History, the Francis Parkman Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.  In 2001, W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963 (2000) received a second Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Lewis’s recent book, God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215 was published by Norton (2008) and translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Indonesian, and several other languages.  His new book, The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved His Party, His Country’s Allies, and Conceived a New World Order, appears from Liveright/Norton in March 2018.

Mr. Lewis has received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (twice), the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the American Academy in Berlin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, former trustee of the National Humanities Center, former commissioner of the National Portrait Gallery, former senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and former president of the Society of American Historians. He was awarded the 2010 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at the White House. Mr. Lewis retired from New York University in August 2013 as Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus. On May 11, 2015, he received the Arthur Meier Schlesinger Distinguished Service Award from the Society of American Historians. Mr. Lewis resides on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and near Stanfordville, New York.


Eugene B. Redmond was named Poet Laureate of East St. Louis (Illinois) in 1976, the year Doubleday Publishing Co. released his best-selling book, Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry. Earlier, he spent two years (1967–69) as teacher-counselor and poet-in-residence at Southern Illinois University’s Experiment in Higher Education (ESL), where he taught with Katherine Dunham.(In 2006, he coordinated the International Memorial Celebration for Miss Dunham.) From 1970to 85, he was professor of English and poet-in-residence at California State University-Sacramento. During that time, he won an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, an Outstanding Faculty Research Award, a Pushcart Prize “Best of the Small Presses,” and served as a visiting professor at universities in the U.S., Africa, and Europe. In 1986, a year after he returned home to East St. Louis, local authors created the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club in his honor. Redmond is the author/editor of 25 volumes of poetry, collections of diverse writings, plays for stage and TV, and posthumously published works of Henry Dumas. Redmond read a poem at Maya Angelou’s 70th birthday gala (1998) hosted by Oprah Winfrey. (In April of 2008, his photo exhibit “Eighty Moods of Maya” was featured at Angelou’s 80th birthday party in Palm Beach, Florida.) The year 2008 also capped a long line of awards and accolades when he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from SIUE. Additionally, Redmond has won an American Book Award (for The Eye in the Ceiling), the Sterling Brown Award from American Library Association’s African American Literature and Culture Association, a Staying the Course Award from ETA of Chicago, and the St. Louis American Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


 Susan L. Taylor, best-selling author of four books, and editor of eight others, is a fourth-generation entrepreneur, who grew up in Harlem working in her father’s clothing store. At 24, she founded her own cosmetics company, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence, the publication she would go on to shape into a world-renowned brand with more than eight million readers. It was that enterprising spirit wedded to a deep love for her community that led to the founding of the National CARES Mentoring Movement in 2005 as Essence CARES. With local affiliates in 58 cities, National CARES has recruited, trained, and deployed more than 140,000 mentors to schools and youth-support and mentoring organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, as well as in its own culturally rooted, academic and social transformational initiatives. A community-mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for Black children. A lifelong activist who has worked to ensure people across the globe, from South Africa to those who struggled in the wake of hurricane Katrina, Taylor says, securing our children is her highest calling and the big business of Black America today.


Colson Whitehead is the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of The Underground Railroad, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the 2016 National Book Award, and named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of The Noble HustleZone OneSag HarborThe IntuitionistJohn Henry DaysApex Hides the Hurt, and The Colossus of New York. He is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a recipient of the MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships. He lives in New York City.