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News & Media

Hurston/Wright Foundation
Presents 2015 Legacy Awards

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announces the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Winners and Finalists:

Legacy Award winners and finalists FICTION

Winner: Laila Lalami, The Moor’s Account
Finalist: Roxane Gay, An Untamed State
Finalist: Tiphanie Yanique, Land of Love and Drowning

Legacy Award winners and finalists NONFICTION

Winner: Elizabeth Nunez, Not for Everyday Use
Finalist: Charles M. Blow, Fire Shut Up in My Bones
Finalist: Charles Cobb, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed

Legacy Award winners and finalists POETRY

Winner: Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Finalist: Geffrey Davis, Revising the Storm
Finalist: Roger Reeves, King Me

Winners of the Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers

Renia White for poetry

Winner: Grace Jean-Pierre
Honorable Mention: 
Sarah Daniele Dickerson
Honorable Mention: Jasmine Evans



The 14th Annual Legacy Awards on Friday, October 23, 2015

The 14th Annual Legacy Awards

Friday, October 23, 2015

7:30 pm

The Washington Plaza Hotel
10 Thomas Circle, NW

Washington, DC 20015


North Star Award Recipient
Edwidge Danticat
and winners of the Legacy Awards
in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
and the College Writers Awards
Literary Salutes by Special Guests:
Poets Nikky Finney
Yusef Komunyakaa
Mistress of Ceremonies:
S. Epatha Merkerson

Dessert Reception and Authors Pavilion
immediately following
the awards ceremony

Purchase Your Ticket

Meet the family of Hurston/Wright writers,
the top Black writers in literature
Doors open at 7pm
Self-parking garage is available

Legacy Award Nominees Reading at Busboys and Poets on October 22, 2015

We Celebrate the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards

Nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards
in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry read from their nominated books on
the eve of the Legacy Awards Ceremony

Thursday October 22, 6:30 p. m.

Busboys and Poets Brookland 625 Monroe Street N.E.

  • Ishmael Beah author of the novel Radiance of Tomorrow
  • Saladin Ambar author of Malcolm X at Oxford Union
  • Geffrey Davis author of the poetry collection Revising the Storm
  • Brian Gilmore author of the poetry collection We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters

Busboys and Poets 14th and V Street N.W.

  • Tiphanie Yanique author of the novel Land of Love and Drowning
  • Laila Lalami author of the novel The Moor’s Account
  • Charles E. Cobb author of This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed
  • Roger Reeves author of the poetry collection King Me


Please note that the readings at each location will begin at 6:30


A Conversation with Wil Haygood on September 21 at 6:00 pm

Join Us for a Conversation with Wil Haygood

author of

Showdown Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America

Wil Haygood will be Interviewed by Sheryll Cashin, former Clerk to Justice Marshall.

Featuring Special Guest Congressman Elijah E. Cummings.

Monday, September 21, 2015

6:00 pm: Reception

7:00 pm: Conversation with author Wil Haygood


Howard University School of Law – Dunbarton Chapel

2900 Van Ness Street N.W./ Houston Hall – 355

(off Connecticut Avenue)

Washington, D.C 20008

Books will be available for purchase




Wil HaygoodWil Haygood

A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and a former writer for the Washington Post, Wil Haygood has been described as a cultural historian. He is the author of a trio of iconic biographies. His King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., told the story of the enigmatic New York congressman and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. That was followed—after publication of a family memoir—by In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr., which was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Music Biography Award, the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award, and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In 2009, he wrote Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson, which told the story of the famed New York pugilist known as much for his prowess in the ring as his elegant style outside of it. Haygood is an associate producer of Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Wil is a Distinguished Professor at Miami University of Ohio.



CummingsElijah Cummings

Since 1996, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings has served as the Representative of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was born and raised in Baltimore and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Howard University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

Congressman Cummings is dedicated to uplifting and empowering the people he is sworn to represent. He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.  Congressman Cummings often says that our children are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see. Congressman Cummings serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He is also a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Congressman Cummings serves on numerous boards and commissions. He holds the 2014-2015 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy Lecture Series at Howard University.



CashinHeadshot13Sheryll Cashin

Sheryll Cashin is a Professor of Law at Georgetown University and the author, most recently, of Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America. Her first book, The Failures of Integration, was an Editors’ Choice in the New York Times Book Review and a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her memoir, The Agitator’s Daughter, was a Legacy Award nominee as well. Cashin’s writing also has appeared in the New York Times, the L.A. Times and the Washington Post.

Richard black boy

Celebrate Richard Wright’s Birthday and the 70th Anniversary of Black Boy on September 3 at 6:30 pm

The Hurston/Wright Foundation celebrates Richard Wright’s Birthday and the 70th Anniversary of his classic memoir Black Boy.
Guest Writers Natalie Hopkinson, Teri Cross Davis, Hayes Davis, Beverly Yaman and Rion Scott will read excerpts from and discuss the impact of Wright and his American classic.
Thursday September 3rd 6:30pm
Shaw Library 1630 7th Street N.W.
Free and open to the public
Busboys Writers Week

Hurston/Wright Faculty Reads at Busboys and Poets Brookland on Sunday, July 19 at 6:30pm

As part of its mission “to ensure the future of Black writers and the literature they produce,” the faculty of  Hurston/Wright Writers Week will hold a public reading.   Join us to hear the work of accomplished and emerging poets and writers of fiction and creative nonfiction; speakers include: Breena Clarke, author of Angels Make Their Hope Here and Stand the Storm;Terrance Hayes, award-winning poet whose books include How to be Drawn, Lighthead, and Wind in a Box;Wil Haygood, author of The Butler and the forthcoming Showdown; and Chinelo Okparanta, whose fiction includes Happiness Like Water.

Please join us on Sunday, July 19 at 6:30 pm at Busboys and Poets Brookland located at 625 Monroe St NE Washington, DC 20017 



Celebration of Juneteenth – Food & Folklore

Eatonville’s Food & Folklore Presents: Celebration of Juneteenth
Eatonville Restaurant
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)
Washington, DC

Buy Ticket


Washington D.C., Eatonville Restaurant is hosting its reoccurring dinner series, Food & Folklore on June 17, 2015 from 6:30pm-9:30pm. This event is centered around the Celebration of Juneteenth. Partnering with the Hurston/Wright Foundation, this evening entails a 4 course dinner, specialty cocktails, special guests, and live performances. Join us as we reflect, educate, and celebrate this memorable day in history.

Juneteenth commemorates the day the inhabitants of Galveston, TX were informed of their freedom via the Emancipation Proclamation. This resulted in the last 250,000 slaves finally being freed 2 ½ years after Lincoln signed said document. June 19th, which was quickly shortened to “Juneteenth”, has become the African-American celebration of freedom. Black Americans have adopted Juneteenth as their OWN “Independence Day”. It is a time to remember this troubled history, and to celebrate a hopeful future.

Special Guest Includes:

About the A’Lelia Bundles:

A’Lelia Bundles is at work on her fourth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, a biography of her great-grandmother, whose parties and arts patronage helped define the Harlem Renaissance. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker was named a New York Times Notable Book. She is chairman of the board of the National Archives Foundation and a vice chair of Columbia University’s board of trustees. Ms. Bundles enjoyed a 30-year career as an Emmy-award wining producer with NBC News, then as a producer and executive with ABC News, where she was Washington, DC deputy bureau chief.
An engaging public speaker and skilled MC, she brings warmth, intelligence, humor and a strong grasp of current events and history to her presentations about women entrepreneurs, philanthropy, media, journalism, politics, race, social issues and the stories of her pioneering great-great-grandmother, Madam Walker, America’s first self-made millionaire businesswoman.

About Clinton Yates:

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. He was born at GWU hospital the week before Ronald Reagan ended up there for the wrong reasons. When he’s not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.

Malichi Bryd:

Proud Washington D.C. native Malachi Byrd is an eighteen year-old, rising sophomore at Princeton University. The captain and co-founder of ContraVerse, his high school slam team, Malachi led the team to the 2014 Louder Than a Bomb – DMV title. He also is a 2-time member of the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team, including the 2014 winners of theBrave New Voices International Poetry Festival. A rapper, poet, scholar, and activist, Malachi has won numerous awards and scholarships, and has performed on television, radio, at protests on the national mall, the Kennedy Center, and South Africa. He is the self-proclaimed first Senator of Washington D.C., (Vote Byrd 2032) and will use his education to help tackle problems of inequality and inequity in urban environments. An outspoken feminist and ally, Malachi uses his poetry as introspection, self-discovery, and activism. He never shies away from his Blackness and makes that evident in his second release of poems, Which Picture Would They Use? (2015), which is currently available. Also, his first mixtape, Domino Effect, is scheduled to drop this fall.

Tosin Aribisala:

A renaissance force to be reckoned with, the Nigerian-born composer, drummer and vocalist, popularly known as Tosin, has been professionally involved in music for over 20 years. During these years of experience, Tosin has cultivated and stayed true to the African-rooted art form, helping to promote contemporary African music in the way that his musical heroes like Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango, Majek Fashek, Papa Wemba and Salif Keita, to name a few, have indeed spread modern African music abroad, but Tosin comes forth with new and special vibrations to his brand of world music, which he branded as Afrikan Rhapsody.
Tosin has released 4 albums (What’s On Your Mind, 2006; Drum Monologue, 2008; Restoration, 2012; Life Begins, 2013). And his band has performed, both as headliner and opening act, at various festivals and jazz venues around the states. Tosin continues to write new materials, conduct workshops and teach.

About the Hurston Wright Foundation:

Named for literary geniuses, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Hurston/Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 by award-winning author Marita Golden and bibliophile/cultural historian Clyde McElvene. Hurston/Wright was established to be a resource center for training and a gateway to ensure the unique experience and voice of African Americans in literature.
The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a literary education institution committed to the development, dissemination and preservation of literature with a focus on the contributions of African American writers. By preserving and honoring African Americans in literature, the Foundation ensures this vital part of American literature will continue to remain available to all readers.
The Hurston/Wright Foundation serves aspiring and emerging writers, published authors, readers and supporters of Black literature. Hurston/Wright programs, awards, special events and literary resources aim to impact the literature community and those who contribute to the enrichment of it.

About Food & Folklore:

Bringing the art of the story back to the dinner table, Eatonville Restaurant launched Food & Folklore, a new monthly series intertwining storytelling and fabulous food, on November 13, 2009. Food & Folklore is wrapped in the spirit of gifted storyteller and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston’s brand of hospitality and a generosity with food.

Have questions about Eatonville’s Food & Folklore Presents: Celebration of Juneteenth? Contact Eatonville Restaurant


2015 Legacy Award Nominations

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards annually honor published works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by Black writers published in the previous year. Recognized as a singular award from the Black writing community to its peers, the Legacy Awards each year recognizes members of the national and international Black writing community.

The 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominees

The Secret History of Las Vegas Chris Abani (Penguin Books)
Radiance of Tomorrow Ishmael Beah (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
An Untamed State Roxane Gay (Grove Atlantic)
The Moor’s Account Laila Lalami (Pantheon)
The Orchard of Lost Souls Nadifa Mohamed (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Land of Love and Drowning Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books)


Our Declaration Danielle Allen (Liveright)
This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed Charles E. Cobb (Basic Books)
Fire Shut Up In My Bones Charles Blow (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Malcolm X at Oxford Union Saladin Ambar (Oxford University Press)
Losing Our Way Bob Herbert (Doubleday)
Not for Everyday Use Elizabeth Nunez (Akashic Books)


Revising the Storm Geffrey Davis (BOA Editions)
We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters Brian Gilmore (Cherry Castle Publishing)
Digest Gregory Pardlo ( Four Way Books)
The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon Willie Perdomo (Penguin Books)
Citizen: An American Lyric Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
King Me Roger Reeves (Copper Canyon Press)

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Ceremony will take place Friday, October 23rd in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

The judges for the 2015 Legacy Awards were

Fiction: David Haynes, Martha Southgate, and Beverly East
Nonfiction: Ashraf Rushdy, Sheri Booker, and Keith S. Clark
Poetry: Chris Abani, Monica Hand, and Allison Joseph


Hurston/Wright Announces the 2015 College Winners

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announces the winners and honorable mentions in the 2015 Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers. The Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award for College Writers is presented to college writers in the genres of fiction and poetry. The award, underwritten by a friend and supporter of the Foundation, awards a total cash prize of $3,000 and seeks to recognize and encourage emerging college creative writers with support early in their writing careers.

Grace Jean Pierre photo

Fiction Winner Grace Jean-Pierre

Fiction Winner Grace Jean-Pierre of the University of South Florida will receive $1,000 for her story Espwa; Fiction Honorable Mention Sarah Dickerson of the Otis College of Art and Design will receive $250 for her story The Turner Haunt; Fiction Honorable Mention Jasmine Evans of Mills College will receive $250 for her story Blurred Lines.


Poetry Winner Bonita Penn

Poetry Winner Bonita Penn of Lesley University will receive $1,000 for her poem Blame it on the Wooden Arks, blame it on those Boogeymen; Honorable Mention Safiya Sinclair of the University of Southern California will receive $250 for her poem One Hundred Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof; Honorable Mention Renia White of Cornell University will receive $250 for her poem Syndoche.

The winners and honorable mentions will be honored at the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Friday October 23rd in Washington, D.C. At this year’s Legacy Ceremony which also celebrates the Foundation’s 2th anniversary, novelist Edwidge Danticat will receive the Foundation’s North Star Award. S.Epatha Merkerson will host and poets Nikky Finney and Yusef Komunyakaa will be among the guest speakers and presenters.

The poetry judge was Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and the fiction judge was A.J. Verdelle


A New Look

Marita Golden
Founder and Interim Executive Director

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation is a resource for a world of Black writers and the readers who love them. We have a new look that enhances our mission and message and helps us better serve authors, publishers and readers.

For 25 years, the Hurston/Wright Foundation has served a community of Black writers. In this anniversary year, we are expanding our ability to connect with Black writers and readers who love literature inspired by the global Black experience.

Because we understand that you want to know more about authors and their literary works, our new website makes the Hurston/Wright Foundation one of the best resources for information on Black writers. To learn more about our programming and the writers we serve, search the headings and click on your favorites.

  • Author Pages feature information on authors’ backgrounds, book titles and awards, as well as links to purchase books.
  • The Legacy Awards Archives features past nominees, winners, finalists, and College Writer Award recipients. The foundation has hosted the Legacy Awards to celebrate the best in Black literature for 14 years.
  • Workshops where published authors train, mentor and develop writers at all stages of their careers are central to our mission. Enhanced features make it easier for writers to identify upcoming workshops and master classes as well as to register for them.
  • The Events page announces upcoming events, including workshops, seminars, master classes, public readings and other special programs. Click on an event for more information and to register.

While our look has changed, our mission has not. We are even more committed to providing you with easy access to information about authors and books and the Hurston/Wright Foundation’s programming.  In the weeks to come, we will announce additional enhancements and resources. Stay tuned for more.