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Event

Ebony Visions and Cowrie Shell Dreams: Black Storytelling and Children’s Literature across the Generations

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

12:30 – 2:30 pm, PST

Osher Theater, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, UC Berkeley (2155 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94720)

Join BSC Elder in Residence Ms. Daphne Muse, Cheryl and Wade Hudson, Krystaelynne Sanders Diggs, Dr. Ajuan Mance, and moderator Professor Leigh Raiford for a conversation on the legacy of Black children’s literature and the writers who continue telling stories that tap into the imagination and pay homage to Black futures. The panel will harvest the legacy of Black children’s literature classics and raise the voices of 21st century writers who continue to engage in the centuries old art of telling the stories of lives lived and sharing poems that tap into the imagination, intellect, and curiosities that abound in the minds of our young people. And to lift the voices of Black writers beyond the chains of censorship and banning. The dialogue will launch Black History Month lifting the voices of those who contributed to this literature across time and honoring the work the panelists bring forward.

Mason Charles Brannon, Great Grandson of Daphne Muse (11 months old)

Check out the National African American Read-In initiative for more information.

Panelists

Elder-In-Residence, Ms. Daphne Muse

Daphne Muse
Daphne Muse in the living room of her former Oakland home by Brant Ward. 2012

Since migrating to the Bay Area from Washington, D.C. in 1971, Daphne Muse has been an unflagging caretaker and activist, dedicating herself to the intersections between education, neighborhood organization, public exhibitions and literature. Shortly after arriving she became the secretary of the Angela Davis Legal Defense Team. During those years, Ms. Muse also advocated for the founding of the African American Studies department at UC Berkeley and later became a teacher at UC Berkeley under Dr. William (Bil) Banks and also taught for several years at Mills College. Ms. Muse saw herself as an ambassador between the university and the lives of the nearby marginalized (then referred to as Third World communities). She often organized large scale public programs and thoughtfully curated exhibitions in order to bring these communities into conversation.

Cheryl and Wade Hudson, Award-winning authors and Founders of Just Us Books

In 1988, keenly aware of the need for more books for young people that celebrate and center Black people, history, and experiences, Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson founded Just Us Books. Grounded in the belief that “good books make a difference” – Just Us Books set out to publish the kind of positive, affirming titles that the couple wanted for their own two children. Under the Hudsons’ leadership, Just Us Books has become an institution in the publishing industry and Black community and remains one of the nation’s few Black-owned presses. In 2008, the Hudsons launched Marimba Books, an imprint that focuses on multicultural literature for children. As publishers, authors and editors, the Hudsons have helped bring to market hundreds of diverse children’s books that inspire, educate, entertain and allow children to see themselves reflected in stories.

Wade’s career in publishing spans four decades. He has written more than thirty-five books for young people including, AFRO-BETS Book of Black Heroes; Poetry from the Masters: The Pioneers; Jamal’s Busy Day, and Powerful Words: More than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans. He is co-editor with Cheryl of three anthologies published in partnership with Crown Books for Young Readers, including: The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth and Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life. His most recent book is the coming-of-age memoir, Defiant: Growing up in the Jim Crow South, which Kirkus Reviews called a “powerful testimony from a children’s literature legend” and was a 2022 winner of the Malka Penn Award.   

Cheryl began her career doing textbook design for publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Macmillan. An author, editor and art director, she has written more than two dozen children’s books, including AFRO-BETS® ABC Book, which was Just Us Books’ first published title; the classic Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can; My Friend Maya Loves to Dance; and her collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture: Brave Black First, 50+ Women Who Changed the World. She is co-editor with Wade of three anthologies including the award-winning We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices.

Wade and Cheryl have received many awards for their contributions to children’s literature, including induction into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent; the Harlem Book Fair Phillis Wheatley Award; the Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award presented by the Center for Black Literature; the Madame C. J. Walker Legacy Award given by the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Foundation, Children’s Book Council’s Diversity Achievement Award, and a 2022 Eric Carle Honor.   

Leading advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion in kidlit, and mentors to aspiring and established authors and illustrators, the Hudsons and their pioneering efforts have helped to change the landscape of the industry and have enriched readers everywhere.    

Krystaelynne Sanders Diggs, Bay Area Children’s Author

Krystaelynne is an author and child sexual abuse advocate who is dedicated to using her writing to educate and empower children. With a background in criminal justice, political science, and ethnic studies, she has made it her mission to prevent child sexual abuse and promote positive self-esteem in young readers. As a mother, Krystaelynne is passionate about providing children with the tools they need to develop confidence and strength in the face of life’s challenges. In her work as an advocate, she is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of children. Krystaelynne currently resides in Northern California with her husband and son, who provide her with love and support.

In addition to her books, Krystaelynne offers bulk discounts, school visits, and resources on child sexual abuse prevention. To learn more and stay updated, visit her website and follow her on social media. To learn more and stay updated, visit her website (ksdiggs.com) and follow her on social media (Facebook – Author K Sanders Diggs and Instagram – @allthingsdiggs). 

Dr. Ajuan Mance, Professor of English and Ethnic Studies, Visual Artist, and Author, Mills College at Northeastern University

Ajuan Mance is the author and illustrator of 1001 Black Men: Portraits of Masculinity at the Intersections (Stacked Deck Press, 2022) and Living While Black: Portraits of Everyday Resistance (Chronicle Books, 2022). Ajuan will release a new children’s book in the fall of 2023. Ajuan’s illustrations and comics have appeared in several collections including: We’re Still Here, winner of the 2019 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Anthology; Drawing Power, winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Anthology; COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology, and others.

Leigh Raiford, Moderator, Professor of African American Studies and Director, Black Studies Collaboratory, University of California, Berkeley 

Leigh Raiford (she/they), Co-PI and Inaugural Director is Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she teaches, researches, curates and writes about race, gender, justice and visuality. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation (Germany), the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson foundation, and the Hellman Family Foundation and has also been a Fulbright Senior Specialist.

Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), which was a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Best Book Prize. She is co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez of Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2017) and with Renee Romano of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006). Her work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including Art Journal, American Quarterly, Small Axe, Qui Parle, History and Theory, English Language Notes and NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art; as well as popular venues including Artforum, Aperture, Ms. Magazine, Atlantic.com and Al- Jazeera.com. Raiford’s essays have also been included in the collections Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture After 1945, edited by Sara Blair, Joseph Entin and Franny Nudelman; Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, (Harry N. Abrams Press, 2003), a history of race and photography in the United States edited by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis; and Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, (Duke, 2012), edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith.

Raiford has written essays about the work of a number of contemporary Black artists, including LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lava Thomas, Mildred Howard, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Dawoud Bey. In 2019, she co-curated the group shows Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles (with Essence Harden) and About Things Loved: Blackness and Belonging at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.

Accessibility

This event is free and open to the public. The venue is wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation will be provided. If you need accommodations to fully participate, please contact Barbara Montano at bmontano14@berkeley.edu or 510-664-4324 with as much advance notice as possible. Please refrain from wearing any scented products, including essential oils.