Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Sir Arthur Lewis to Have Buildings Named for Them at Princeton University

Nobel Laureates Sir Arthur Lewis (l) and Toni Morrison (r)

article by jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Princeton University in New Jersey has announced that Toni Morrison, the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emerita at the university, will have a building on the Princeton campus named in her honor. West College, built in 1836, is now used as an administration building. It will now be known as Morrison Hall.

Toni Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved. In 1993, she was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 2012, Professor Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her latest novel is God Help the Child (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015).

The board of trustees also announced that the main auditorium in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will be renamed to honor Sir Arthur Lewis, a Nobel laureate in economics who taught at Princeton from 1963 to 1983.

A native of St. Lucia, Professor Lewis was the first person of African descent to be appointed a professor in Great Britain’s university system. He was knighted in 1963 and won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1979. Professor Lewis died in 1991.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires James Baldwin Papers

Author and activist James Baldwin (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library recently acquired James Baldwin’s personal archive. The archive includes 30 linear feet of letters and manuscripts, as well as drafts of essays, novels, and other works. It also includes galleys and screenplays with notes handwritten on them as well as photographs and other media forms documenting Baldwin’s life and creative output.

“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” said Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center of the new acquisition. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists, and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words, and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers—I count myself among all three—to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”

Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou all have collections at the Schomburg Center and Baldwin was their colleague. His papers not only complement theirs, but offer researchers a fascinating look at the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, through the works of these seminal figures,” said Steven G. Fullwood, Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers | theGrio

Pulitzer Prize Winners: Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage, Hilton Als and Tyehiimba Jess Earn Awards for 2017

2017 Pulitzer Prize winners Hilton Als, Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage and Tyehimba Jess (photo via mic.com)

article by Sarah A. Harvard via mic.com

The Pulitzer Prize committee announced its 2017 winners at its 101st annual ceremony on Monday. Among the 21 winners of the prestigious literary award, four black writers were commended for their work. BuzzFeed News’ executive editor Saeed Jones tweeted that Tyehimba Jess, Hilton Als, Lynn Nottage and Colson Whitehead were among the new class of winners.

Jess won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Olio, a collection of his sonnets, songs and narratives that highlight the lives of “unrecorded African-American performers” before the Civil War up to World War I.

Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize in drama for her Broadway show Sweat. The play, a political drama, centers on a group of friends who spent most of their lives working with each other in a factory and follows their friendship’s tumultuous friendship as rumors of layoffs begin to stir. According to Playbill, Nottage is the first female playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize twice. Nottage tweeted out thank yous for her award.

Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his 2016 novel The Underground Railroad. The novel tells the story of a teenage heroine, Cora, in 1850s Georgia who tries to escape a cotton plantation and start her journey toward freedom.

Als, a theater critic for the New Yorker, won a Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

Source: 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners: 4 black writers take home the coveted award

College Student Kaya Thomas Creates “We Read Too” Mobile Directory of 600 Books that Prioritize Diversity 

We Read Too app creator Kaya Thomas (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Katherine Brooks via huffingtonpost.com

As a kid, Kaya Thomas enjoyed reading. “No matter how old I was, what I was going through, how I felt in any moment, a book was always a means of escape” she wrote in a blog post in 2015. “A way to dive into a new world and become a new character.”As a self-professed “nerdy black girl in high school,” Thomas’ love of books, and the escapism they afforded, only grew. She’d read three or four a week, seeking solace in their pages when she “felt very different than most of my peers.”

Something changed in those high school years, though. As a mature reader, she began to pay more attention to how the characters in her favorite books were described ― namely, how they were meant to look. “When I was a teenager I began to realize that a lot of the books I read didn’t have characters that looked like me,” she’s since admitted. “Realizing that made me feel invisible.”

So as a student at Dartmouth College, Thomas decided to do something about her sense of invisibility. Not only did she search the internet, compiling her own list of books written by authors of color that put characters of color in primary storylines, she learned to code so that she could share her database with other young readers. After taking part in a Black Girls Code hackathon, and learning the ins and outs of iOs during an internship, Thomas devised an iPhone app that functioned as a directory of 300 books showcasing characters of color.

“Young people should be able to see themselves represented in literature, so they know that their stories are important and that there are authors who […] celebrate their background and show the real lives of people like them,” Thomas wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. She cited books like Nalo Hopkinson’s The Chaos and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus as influential titles in her own life.

“When young people don’t see themselves represented positively in books, TV, movies and other forms of media, that erasure really harms self-image and how you perceive yourself as you grow up,” she added. Thomas’ app ― We Read Too ― launched in 2014 and has since grown to include over 600 relevant books. It’s also amassed over 15,000 iPhone users, who’ve downloaded the free app and suggested 1,600 other titles be added to the database.

And Thomas wants to meet their demands.Her skills as an iOS developer have grown throughout the course of her various internships and engagement with online development communities. She recently launched an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of updating her app, quickly surpassing her goal of raising $10,000. Now with a stretch goal of $25,000, she has a few more objectives in mind: hire someone to review the books users suggest and grow the database to include 1,000 titles, create an Android version of We Read Too and initiate a UI redesign, and create a website version of her directory.

To read more, go to: College Student Creates A Mobile Directory Of 600 Books That Prioritize Diversity | The Huffington Post

Tomi Adeyemi, 23, Lands Big Publishing and Film Deals from Macmillan and Fox 2000 for Debut YA Novel ‘Children Of Blood And Bone’

Author Tomi Adeyemi (photo via deadline.com)

article by Michael Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

In a remarkable pair of deals for a debut author who is just 23, Fox 2000 has just made a preemptive acquisition of Children of Blood and Bone, the first installment of a fantasy novel trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi that will spawn a trilogy.

Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey are producing with Karen Rosenfelt. Word is this deal landed at or near seven-figures, and so did a whopping publishing deal that just closed at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

The novel is unusual in that the fantasy trilogies studios usually buy for big bucks are built around white characters. This one weaves in African culture and characters and mixes it with magic to create an intriguing mythology that is otherworldly but somehow familiar. It is being called a Black Lives Matter-inspired fantasy.

The protagonist is Zélie, who at six years old watched the king’s guards hang her mother on a tree outside her home. She never forgot it. In the beginning, every Orïshan was a magi: born with dark skin, stark white hair and the blessing of the god’s magic once they reached adulthood. Yet over time, their population dwindled and they became Orïsha’s minority. Magic became a thing to loathe, dark skin transformed into a thing to hate. Ten years after the raid that killed her mother and took away magic forever, Zélie Adebola has one chance to bring magic back. Through a fortuitous encounter with the Princess Amari, Zélie comes into possession of a sacred scroll necessary to restore a connection to the gods and secure magic for another hundred years. This sets the young women on a quest to end the senseless violence and oppression by the lighter-skinned royal class.

Danger lurks in this west-African inspired world, where lionnaires and cheetanaires roam, and the beautiful villages built over oceans, out of sand or forged in iron hide a dark underbelly of slavery and corruption. They find themselves pitted against a crown prince bent on wiping out magic for good.

Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, who graduated from Harvard before receiving a fellowship to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil.

To read full article, go to: Fox 2000 Lands ‘Children Of Blood And Bone’ In Splashy Book Deal | Deadline

‘Moonlight’ Filmmaker Barry Jenkins to Adapt and Direct TV Series for Amazon Based on Colson Whitehead’s NYT Bestseller “The Underground Railroad”

Barry Jenkins (Photo: ROB LATOUR/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Joe Otterson via Variety.com

“Moonlight” director and Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins will write and direct a one-hour drama series about the Underground Railroad currently in development at Amazon. The series will be based on Colson Whitehead’s best-selling book, “The Underground Railroad.”

“Going back to ‘The Intuitionist,’ Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and ‘The Underground Railroad’ is no different,” Jenkins said. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”

Published by Doubleday, “The Underground Railroad” has sold over 825,000 copies in the United States across all formats. An Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, New York Times bestseller, and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the book chronicles young Cora’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping her Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

This will be Johnson’s first attempt at directing a TV series in its entirety. He recently directed an episode of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the film “Dear White People,” and previously directed one episode of the PBS series “Futurestates.” Jenkins’ Pastel Productions will executive produce along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. Pitt and Plan B also produced “Moonlight.”

To read full article, go to: ‘Moonlight’ Director to Write, Direct Underground Railroad Series | Variety

Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street to Produce Film Adaptation of Bestseller “The Mothers” for Warner Bros. 

Kerry Washington (photo via variety.com)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Warner Bros. has optioned Brit Bennett’s debut novel and New York Times bestseller, ”The Mothers,” with Kerry Washington on board to produce. Washington will produce under the Simpson Street Banner, along with Natalie Krinsky. Bennett will write the script and executive produce.

Originally published in October 2016 by Riverhead, a division of Penguin, “The Mothers” is a story about young love, friendship, a big secret in a small community, and the things that ultimately haunt us most. At this time, Washington is just producing the project.

Simpson Street’s first production, “Confirmation,” earned critical acclaim as well as an Emmy nomination for best movie made for television. “The Mothers” will be their first feature project for Warner Bros. ‎Washington also received an Emmy nomination for “Confirmation” and continues to star in the hit ABC series “Scandal.”

To read more, go to: Warner Bros. Options ‘The Mothers’ for Kerry Washington | Variety