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Michael Eric Dyson

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is the Centennial Chair at Vanderbilt University and serves as University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School. He is also a New York Times contributing opinion writer, and a contributing editor of The New Republic, and of ESPN’s The Undefeated website. His rise from humble roots in Detroit to his present perch as a world-class intellectual, noted author of 21 books, prominent leader and national media fixture testify to his extraordinary talent. Dyson has also taught at other elite
universities like Georgetown University as a sociology professor, Brown University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University and The University of Pennsylvania.

He also won many prestigious honors, including an American Book Award and two NAACP Image Awards. Dyson has also enlivened public debate across the media landscape on every major television and radio show in the country, from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Real Time with Bill Maher, from Good Morning America to The Today Show, from NPR’s All Things Considered to its Talk of the Nation, from the Tavis Smiley Show to Def Poetry Jam, from This Week with George Stephanopoulos to Meet the Press, and Face the Nation — and several programs on ESPN.

Dyson’s recent book, JAY-Z: Made in America, was named one of Washington Post’s 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2019. And Dyson’s 2005 New York Times bestseller Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? helped to jump start a national conversation on the black poor. Dyson’s book, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, has been described by The New York Times as “an interpretive miracle.” It was a finalist for the prestigious 2016 Kirkus Prize. Dyson’s book, the widely praised New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, has been described by the New York Times.

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Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. He’s also the 2020–2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His many books include Stamped, When I Was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

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Carla Hayden
Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama on February 24, 2016, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 13.

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Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City, was published by Yale University Press in 2008. Her second book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge was a 2017 finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and a winner of the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Award. She is also the author of She Came to Slay, an illustrated tribute to Harriet Tubman.

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Tony Zanders
Tony Zanders is an award-winning software entrepreneur and library technology executive. He is the Founder and CEO of Skilltype – a software company developing talent management tools for libraries. He also served as the inaugural entrepreneur in residence at the Boston University Libraries, where he advised the University Librarian on talent management while designing new solutions in recruitment and retention for the university and its libraries. Prior to BU, Zanders served in executive roles at EBSCO and Ex Libris for over 10 years. He currently lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife and three children.

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Sharon M. Draper
Sharon M. Draper is a three-time New York Times bestselling author and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire, and was awarded the Charlotte Huck Award for Stella by Starlight. Her novel Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and was a New York Times bestseller for over three years, and Blended has also been a New York Times bestseller. She lives in Florida, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at SharonDraper.com.

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Zakiya Dalila Harris
Zakiya Dalila Harris spent nearly three years in editorial at Knopf/Doubleday before leaving to write her debut novel The Other Black Girl. Prior to working in publishing, Zakiya received her MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Guernica and The Rumpus. She lives in Brooklyn.

Panel Discussion: The Value (and Power) of Representation in Graphic Novels

With the ever-growing popularity of the graphic novel format, the opportunity to tell original stories from the perspective of persons of color is growing exponentially. With each new generation of creatives comes an even greater opportunity, and responsibility to explore personal histories, cultural experiences and just about any range of concepts, subject matter for a new audience. This panel will be a conversation about the ideas, challenges, and rewards of telling stories in the graphic novel format and comics medium. Featuring Jerry Craft, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Dr. Vanessa Hintz, Alitha Martinez and Alex Simmons. Moderated by Christina Taylor.