Hurston/Wright Foundation | Merit Awards
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Merit Awards

Merit Awards

In addition to the Legacy Awards, the following awards may be presented during the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award™ ceremony.

North Star Award Recipients

The North Star Award, the foundation’s highest honor, pays homage to the beacon that guided enslaved Africans to freedom. The recipients of the award are individuals whose writing careers represent brilliant accomplishment and whose service to the writing community inspires others.

2017 Recipient of the North Star Award Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden photo

Dr. Carla Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Nominated by President Barack Obama, she was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress in September 2016. Hayden began her professional career in 1973 as a children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. Prior to her appointment at the Library of Congress, she spent 13 years as chief executive at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, where she made news for keeping the library doors open during the 2015 protests after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. For a week, the library became a refuge, even providing food. During her swearing-in speech, she said that “as a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is our national symbol of knowledge is a historic moment.”

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Ernest Gaines

2016

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Edwidge Danticat
2015

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni
2014

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey
2013

Alice Walker

Alice Walker
2012

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka
2011

Anthony T. Browder

Anthony T. Browder
2010

Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez
2007

William Cox

William Cox
2006

Paul Coates

Paul Coates
2006

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Marie Brown
2005

Howard Dobson

Howard Dobson
2005

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks
2005

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David Levering Lewis
2004

Eloise Greenfield

Eloise Greenfield
2003

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe
2002

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley
1999

E. Lynn Harris

E. Lynn Harris
1998

Ella Baker Award Recipients

The Ella Baker award, named for the heroic civil rights activist, recognizes writers and arts activists for exceptional work that advances social justice.

 

2017 Recipient of the Ella Baker Award Congressman John Lewis

John Lewis photo

Congressman John Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th District and is one of the most respected members of Congress. Since entering office in 1986, he has pushed for anti-poverty programs, healthcare reform and improvements in education, and oversaw multiple renewals of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963’s March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” He is the co-author of the bestselling graphic novel memoir trilogy MARCH, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. In 2016, he won the National Book Award for the third installment in the series, which marked the first time a graphic novel received the honor. He is also the author of Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, written with Brenda Jones, and winner of the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Work-Biography. His biography, Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

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Junot Díaz

2016

Wil Haygood

Wil Haygood
2013

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Isabel Wilkerson
2013

Roberta McLeod

Roberta McLeod
2012

David C. Harrington

David C. Harrington
2007


Madam C.J. Walker Award Recipients

Introduced in 2005, the Madam C.J. Walker Award is given to businesses that have shown exceptional innovation in supporting and sustaining Black literature.

2017 Recipient of the Madam C.J. Walker Award Haki Madhubuti

Haki Madhubuti photo

Haki R. Madhubuti, a leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, founded Third World Press, the largest independent Black-owned U.S. press, in 1967. Publisher, editor and educator, he has published more than 31 books including poetry collections Think Black and Don’t Cry, Scream, under the name Don L. Lee. He took his current Swahili name in 1973, publishing numerous poetry and essay collections, including Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology. Madhubuti was founder and editor of Black Books Bulletin (1970-1994), a key journal documenting the literature, scholarship and conversations of African-American voices for over two decades. He was also a founding member of The Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) Writers Workshop (1967) and founded several charter schools in Chicago. He has received numerous awards including National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy prize in poetry in 2010 for his book, Liberation Narratives.

Just Us Books

Just Us Books
2012

Shrine

Shrine of the Black Madonna
2007

Karibu Books
2006

Hue-Man Bookstore
2005