From agenting to editing, from sales to marketing, less than five percent of publishing professionals are Black, according to the results of the most recent Lee & Low diversity graphic on Black representation in the publishing industry. How does institutional exclusion and racism impact the success of books by Black authors and the trajectory of Black creators? In this panel, industry experts offer insights, share experiences and concerns, and suggest ways to create change.
Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing
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Jalissa Corrie is a marketing and publicity manager at Lee & Low Books, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States. She is also a contributor to A Phoenix First Must Burn, a young adult science fiction and fantasy anthology from Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Photo credit: Andrea Kwamya
Christopher Myers is an artist and writer who lives in New York. While he is widely acclaimed for his work with literature for young people, he is also an accomplished fine artist who has lectured and exhibited internationally. His practice can be divided into two categories: interventions in historical narratives, and work crafted with artisans from around the globe from places as disparate as Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brooklyn.
Cheryl Davis is the general counsel of the Authors Guild. Prior to joining the Guild, she was a partner at the firm of Menaker & Herrmann LLP, where she specialized in intellectual property and wrote a number of articles and made presentations about how artists can protect their intellectual property.
Judy Allen Dodson is a librarian and archivist who has extensive experience working with special collections and local history research. As a children’s book writer, Judy is the recipient of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators's On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award for her manuscript Fast Friends. Her mission is to help foster a growing community of North Carolina writers. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Western Michigan University and M.L.S. from North Carolina Central University.
Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson are co-founders of Just Us Books and are authors and editors of many books for young readers, including We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, published by Crown Books for Young Readers and The Talk, scheduled to be released in August.
Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson are co-founders of Just Us Books and are authors and editors of many books for young readers, including We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, published by Crown Books for Young Readers and The Talk, scheduled to be released in August.
Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati is the CEO of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, a public relation/marketing firm that specializes solely in publishing. She is also the host of VLS Journeys, a program about books, travel, and entertainment, which broadcasts on WJJZ-FM/WDAS-FM (I Heart Media radio stations). Lloyd-Sgambati is also the founder of The African American Children's Book Project, which serves to educate, promote, and preserve Children's literature by and about African Americans.
Photo credit: Marty Regusters
Kelly Starling Lyons is an award-winning children's book author, teaching artist, and founding member of The Brown Bookshelf (http://thebrownbookshelf.com). Her latest titles are Tiara's Hat Parade, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon, Sing a Song: How "Lift Every Voice & Sing" Inspired Generations, and Going Down Home with Daddy. Her mission is to create books that center Black heroes; celebrate family, friendship, and heritage; and show all children the storyteller they hold inside.
Quressa Robinson joined the Nelson Literary Agency in 2017 after working at a previous agency and as an editor for five years. She is originally from San Francisco, but has been living in New York City for over a decade. As a New York-based agent, she is eager to build her MG, YA, and Adult lists. When not curled on her couch reading, she plays video games, enjoys too much TV–mostly Sailor Moon and Avatar: The Last Airbender (Fire Nation!)–eats delicious things, drinks champagne, hangs out with her very clever partner, and adds another “dramatic” color to her lipstick collection. Quressa is also a member of the 2017-2020 WNDB Walter Grant Committee and holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction from Columbia University.