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Contemporary Black NC Authors: A Primer

By Devra Thomas, Digital Editor

Looking for a list of contemporary Black North Carolina authors to read for Black History Month (and beyond)?

We have a long list of pieces published by and about Black authors in the North Carolina Literary Review, specifically our 2019 issue featuring North Carolina African American Literature and our 2016 25th Anniversary Issue with an interview with NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and an essay about the groundbreaking Carolina African American Writers Collective. We have more essays throughout issues about older authors George Moses Horton and Charles Waddell Chesnutt and fiction and poetry by so many other Black writers.

This list is not meant to be fully inclusive. It’s a starter list for readers and, hopefully, an inspiration should anyone want to write about these authors/works for NCLR. Remember, each issue includes the “Flashbacks” section of essays which callback to older features: any of these writers would be eligible as a flashback based on the ’19 issue. And another reminder: for us, North Carolina author means anyone who is from, spent significant time, OR currently lives in North Carolina (or sets work here). Most of these authors are from NC and live here still, but not all of them. To list all of these writers’ impressive bodies of work would’ve taken too long so we have pulled simply one place to start (and encourage you to let us know who you wind up reading all of their works!).


Young Adult


  • Derrick Barnes: Charlotte-based author of dozens of children’s books, including I Am Every Good Thing
  • Pierce Freelon: Grammy-nominated musician for children’s albums also wrote Daddy and Me: Side by Side and Daddy-Daughter Day
  • Michelle Lanier: My N.C. from A to Z by the former director of the NC African American Heritage Commission
  • Carole Boston Weatherford: NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee Caldecott Honor book Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer


  • Jaki Shelton Green: NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee’s most recent I Want to Undie You
  • Lenard Moore: NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee. Start with Gathering at the Crossroads, a collaborative chapbook of Lenard D. Moore’s haiku about the Million Man March.
  • Grace C. Ocasio: regular NCLR reviewer latest Family Reunion
  • Crystal Simone Smith: Down to Earth
  • Gideon Young: My Hands Full of Light


Don’t forget to ask your local library for these titles, or buy them from your nearest Black-owned bookstore like Liberation Station, Rofhiwa Book Cafe, The Urban Reader, or Shelves Bookstore.