Black History Month: A Celebration of Achievements by African Americans: Authors & Illustrators
- Virginia Hamilton
- Walter Dean Myers
- Jerry Pinkney
- Faith Ringgold
- Rita Williams Garcia
- Christopher Myers
- Jackeline Woodson
- Bryan Collier
Virginia Esther Hamilton was born, as she said, “on the outer edge of the Great Depression,” on March 12, 1934. The youngest of five children of Kenneth James and Etta Belle Perry Hamilton, Virginia grew up amid a large extended family in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In New York Virginia met poet Arnold Adoff. They were married in 1960. Arnold worked as a teacher, and Virginia was able to devote her full attention to writing until her two children came along. In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography. Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as “Liberation Literature.” She won every major award in youth literature.
Walter Dean Myers won the Council on Interracial Books for Children contest in 1969, which resulted in the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? Since then, he has won more awards than any author for young adults, and is one of the most prolific writers, with more than 110 books to his credit. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award five times and received two Newbery Honors. His book, Monster, was the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, a National Book Award Finalist, and a New York Times Bestseller. He delivered the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, a distinction reserved for an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of children’s literature. He served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a post appointed by the Library of Congress.
Jerry Pinkney has been illustrating children's books since 1964, illustrating over one hundred titles. His books have been translated into sixteen languages and published in fourteen countries. In addition, Pinkney has received five Caldecott Honor Awards, five Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors, and five New York Times “Best Illustrated Books.” Furthermore, he has received numerous awards for his body of work. He is the 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, which honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children; and the 2016 winner of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. His five decades of work offer compelling artistic insights into the legacy of African American storytelling and experience. Beyond Pinkney’s technical brilliance, his support of differentiated learning through art and of young illustrators sets him apart as both artist and educator.
Faith Ringgold was born in Harlem in 1930. Ever since she was young, she has always had a need to express her ideas through art. Being an artist and a writer of children's books is a fulfillment of her lifelong ambition. Ringgold earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of the City University of New York in 1955. She then taught art in New York City public schools and worked on a master’s degree at City College, which she completed in 1959. Ringgold’s oil paintings and posters begun in the mid-to-late 1960s carried strong political messages in support of the civil-rights movement. She demonstrated against the exclusion of black and female artists by New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in 1968–70. She was arrested for desecrating the American flag in 1970 as a participant in The People’s Flag Show, held at the Judson Memorial Church in New York. Ringgold co-founded Where We At, a group for African-American female artists, in 1971.She followed the family tradition of teaching, but never stopped creating her own art or telling stories. Today she is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego.
Rita Williams-Garcia's is the 2016 Coretta Scott King Award winner for Gone Crazy in Alabama. Newbery Honor-winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The sequel, P.S. Be Eleven, was also a Coretta Scott King Award winner and an ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book), and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program.
Christopher Myers credits his appreciation of the importance of images by observing the objects and photographs his parents would bring home from auctions and flea markets: “little histories;” “other people's memories that get left behind.” Myers has made his career working with his hands in yet another way, creating his own images in collage, photos, woodcuts, and other artistic media. A graduate of Brown University, he has participated in the exclusive Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studio Program. Myers began his children's book career doing research to help his father, and went on to illustrate the elder Myers' Shadow of the Red Moon. In 1998, the two collaborated on Harlem, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book as well as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Myers' solo effort, Black Cat, was also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. In addition to his fine art and illustrative work, Christopher Myers is a clothing designer.
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio but was raised in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of a number of books for children, young adults and adults. She has received numerous awards for her writing including a Coretta Scott King Award, an LA Times Book Prize both for Miracle's Boys and two Jane Addams Peace Awards. In spite of writing full time Jacqueline also works with the National Book Foundation's Summer writing camp where, along with three other Writers in Residence, she teaches creative writing to young people from under served communities. Jacqueline currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Jacqueline's awards include 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. She is the author of more than 2 dozen books for children and young adults and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Bryan Collier is the 2016 Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award for Trombone Shorty. Collier grew up in Pocomoke, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore of the state, the youngest of six children. His interest in art was always encouraged both at home and at school. He began to develop a unique style of painting that incorporated both watercolors and collage. In 1985 Bryan won first place in a Congressional Competition, and his art was displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Later that year he was awarded a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City through their national talent competition. In 1989 Bryan graduated with honors from Pratt Institute with a bachelor of fine arts degree. Meanwhile, he made the decision to focus his time and attention on illustrating children's books full time. It wasn't easy getting his art published in books; Bryan tried for seven years before he got his break with the publication of his book, Uptown.Today Bryan spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces, and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art.