The National Book Foundation recently announced the winners of the National Book Awards in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. African American men were winners in three of the four categories.
Ibram X. Kendi, an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida, won the National Book Award in the nonfiction category for his book Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books, 2016). Dr. Kendi is a graduate of Florida A&M University, where he majored in journalism and African American studies. He earned a Ph.D. in African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Colson Whitehead was the winner in the fiction category for his novel The Underground Railroad (Doubleday, 2016). The book tells the tale of a slave woman named Cora who escapes from a cotton plantation in Georgia. During her journey North on the Underground Railroad, she kills a young White man who was trying to capture her. A graduate of Harvard University, Whitehead won a MacArthur Fellowship. He has taught at the University of Houston, Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, New York University, Princeton University, and Wesleyan University.
John Lewis, the civil rights icon and a 30-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia, shares the award with his two co-authors in the young people’s literature category for the book March: Book Three (Top Shelf Productions, 2016). Congressman Lewis stated that he wrote the book so young people could “understand the essence of the civil rights movement, to walk through the pages of history to learn about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence.” A graduate of Fisk University, Lewis was one of the original Freedom Riders, one of the organizers of the March on Washington, and had his skull fractured on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on Bloody Sunday.