I’m pleased to announce that I am a winner of the 30th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for my book POET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON. “You are the first!” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, “to win an EJK Honor and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.”
Three years ago when I won the award, was one of the proudest moments of my career. I never imagined being considered again. Learning the news of a second award came as a total shock and surprise. There has always been a special place in my heart for Ezra Jack Keats. When he chose to picture brown children in his books, he chose to acknowledge me. I wasn’t invisible to him. In a way, I feel like he’s acknowledged me again–and now again, with this award bearing his name. As a creator of color in a field that sorely lacks diversity, it can be easy to sometimes feel unseen. This award serves as a reminder to me that I am not invisible and that my work matters. Thank you Ezra Jack Keats foundation and de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi for this remarkable distinction. And congratulations to Phoebe Wahl (for Sonya’s Chickens), who is the illustrator recipient. Congrats to all the winners!
The 2016 award ceremony will be held on April 7th during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. And the icing on the cake: I will receive a gold medallion and an honorarium of $1,000!