IN MEMORIAM: Cameron Boyce Remembered

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Cameron Boyce Honors The Clinton 12 | Black History Month | Disney XD

The world is mourning the loss of Disney star Cameron Boyce who passed away Saturday due to an ongoing medical condition. Boyce, 20, who starred in Disney’s Descendants franchise, was found unresponsive at his home and could not be revived by paramedics.

Boyce grew up in front of the camera making his big screen debut in the 2009 horror film Mirrors. He rose to fame as the character of Luke Ross on Disney’s tv show “Jessie.” His “Jessie” co-star Skai Jackson remembered him on Twitter. She wrote:

“I don’t even know where to start… I am at a loss for words. I never thought in a million years I would be writing this. Cam, you were one of a kind. My heart will be forever broken. I am so happy that I got to spend almost every day with you on set, you gave the best hugs. I wish I would have hugged you tighter when I saw you a couple of months ago. Thank you so much for being the big brother I never had… I am so distraught, and I cannot stop crying! I love you so much… fly high. Gods best Angel.”

While Boyce is widely known for his work on television, he also worked alongside Adam Sandler in Grown Ups 1and Grown Ups 2. The usually upbeat actor tweeted his despair over the loss of Boyce who was beloved in the entertainment world. Sandler tweeted, “Too young. Too sweet. Too funny. Just the nicest, most talented, and most decent kid around,” Sandler wrote on Twitter. “Loved that kid. Cared so much about his family. Cared so much about the world. Thank you, Cameron, for all you gave to us. So much more was on the way. All our hearts are broken. Thinking of your amazing family and sending our deepest condolences.”

Boyce’s family was featured in his 2016 Black History Month tribute to his grandmother Jo Ann Boyce who was part of the Clinton 12. As part of Disney XD’s short film series Be Inspired. The proud grandchild showcased his grandmother who integrated schools in Clinton, Mississippi in 1956, one year before the famed Little Rock 9and just two years after the landmark Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, KSdecision desegregating schools in America.

In the short film, Cameron, his sister and their parents travel to the Green McAdoo Cultural Center which features sculptures of his grandmother and the other 11 students who changed history in the United States. Cameron affectionately refers to her as his “Nana” throughout the short film and proclaims that she is his hero.

Boyce, who starred as Conor in Disney’s“Gamers Guide to Pretty Much Everything” for two seasons, had been working on a number of projects including the film Paradise Cityand HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher,” when he died. Boyce’s family says he died of a seizure due to an ongoing, undisclosed medical condition.

Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger offered condolences to the Boyce family.

“The Walt Disney Company mourns the loss of Cameron Boyce who was a friend to so many of us, and filled with so much talent, heart and life, and far too young to die,” Iger wrote. “Our prayers go out to his family and his friends.”

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is culture and entertainment editor for NNPA/Black Press USA. She is also founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, an award-winning news blog covering the African Diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Governor’s Office On Community Initiatives Receives $50,000 Grant To Preserve, Protect African American Artifacts Inside State’s Banneker-Douglass Museum

The Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives received a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to “strengthen African American history and culture” inside the state’s Banneker-Douglass Museum. This grant supports the capacity-building of African American museums and the growth and development of museum professionals at African American museums. A total of $2.2 million in funds has been awarded to 14 grantees.

“This grant will allow us to protect and preserve many of the pieces of Maryland’s African American heritage and historic artifacts by providing crucial upgrades to the storage facilities at the museum,” said Schillica Howard, Curator of Collections for the Banneker-Douglass Museum. “Our hope is that all Marylanders and future generations will engage with their own history, and this grant paves the way for this important cause.”

The Banneker-Douglass Museum is home to more than 12,000 historic objects, exhibition spaces, and an archives library. These upgrades will allow the museum to properly store and preserve important pieces of Maryland’s African American history, primarily its Fine Art and African Art Collections. To learn more about the museum’s collections visit our online collections archive.

“The Banneker-Douglass Museum was selected as a recipient of this federal investment because of our strong commitment to preserving African American heritage and thanks to Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Rutherford, commissioners, and staff who support our mission,” said Chanel Compton, Executive Director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum. “We are dedicated to building the capacity of the museum to better serve as a community- and education-based resource that authentically preserves and empowers the future of African American history in Maryland.”

To view the IMLS FY2019 Museum Grants for African American History and Culture applicant webinar, click here. For more information on IMLS, please visit them online at IMLS.gov.

Chicago Defender Newspaper Moves To Digital Only With Its July 11 Edition

After 114 years of using ink on paper to deliver news that informs, educates and empowers the African American community throughout the Windy City, Real Times Media, parent company of the Chicago Defender, has announced that the Chicago Defender will move to a digital-only format with its July 11 edition. The final printed edition will be delivered Wednesday, July 10.

“This is not a sad day, it’s an exciting time,” said Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer, Real Times Media. “We have several hundred thousand people reading on our website and we have more than 200,000 Facebook followers, so when you compare that to printing 20,000 newspapers once a week, there’s no comparison,” Jackson said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about impact and influence. Influencing the community; influencing the politicians and the business people — and you can’t do that with less than 20,000 readers a week and now we’ll publish every day. When you take a city like Chicago where black people are everywhere, with the printed version we couldn’t reach everyone,” said Jackson.

The iconic Chicago Defender, which the legendary Langston Hughes once penned articles for, has always been respected as one of the most important newspapers in the history of the Black Press.

Founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott, The Chicago Defender fiercely covered and railed against Jim Crow laws; openly championed the Great Migration; tackled segregation head-on; and loyally kept its readers abreast during the Civil Rights era.

The Defender is a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association that represents the Black Press of America – African American-owned newspapers and media companies throughout the U.S.

Keeping with tradition of the 192-year old Black Press of America whose first newspaper, “Freedom’s Journal,” published its first issue in 1827, most members of the Black Press still publish print products. However, nearly all are delivering content on both digital and print platforms.

“It is simply time for the Chicago Defender to break away from the printed page and put more focus on bringing our readers daily content from the African American perspective and increasing the impact of our community voice,” Jackson said.

The company remains committed to being an iconic news organization, but must double-down in the areas where we are seeing growth, Jackson said.

“Ceasing print operations allows us to do that,” he said.

Although the Chicago Defender will no longer print a weekly edition, the brand will continue to highlight pivotal moments via special print editions to create more capacity to actively engage with the community.

With this transition, the publication will retain its existing editorial and management staff and continue to offer its signature events: Men of Excellence, Women of Excellence, and activities surrounding the Bud Billiken Parade, Jackson said.

Bolstering the Defender’s digital transition, Real Times Media has robust plans to continue digitization and licensing of the Chicago Defender archives via strategic partnerships that will generate significant revenue for the brand through 2029.

Jackson said the Defender also will be able to cover more national stories and, if the beloved Cubs win a world series, “We can cover it that night,” he said.

“There is so much opportunity for the Chicago Defender to grow nationally and become a premier player in the African American media space,” Jackson said.

“However, we must continue to courageously evolve our focus to reflect the habits of our readers and our audience and stay focused on those vehicles that genuinely serve our client base. If we do not evolve dramatically, we will be left behind without a clear path for continued success,” he said.

Soulful Symphony Kicks Off Inaugural Season At Merriweather Post Pavilion

Soulful Symphony, a visionary orchestra that celebrates, elevates, and reimagines American music and culture, played its first note at the iconic Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s #SoulfulSetList explored the rich diversity of American Roots Music while capturing the magic and wonder of one of the most iconic stages in the country. During the show, Soulful played a mash-up of American anthems that covered every conceivable style and genre.

Soulful Symphony has been performing for audiences for nearly 20 years. The ensemble is made up of nearly 75 predominantly African American and Hispanic musicians. It takes a disruptive approach to how many Americans view a traditional symphony as offering an experience reserved for a select audience.

“#SoulfulSetList reimagines what’s possible with a modern orchestra. Our partnership with Merriweather allows us to break the mold of the traditional experience with an orchestra and offer an interactive, bi-directional experience between the musicians and the audience that is a hallmark of our culture and experiences around music. In this setting, Soulful can continue to innovate and break new ground,” said Darin Atwater, the artistic director and founder of Soulful Symphony and artistic director for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission.

“We are incredibly excited to introduce Darin and Soulful to the Merriweather audience for its inaugural concert at Merriweather. This is another step in our work toward fulfilling the cultural promise of this storied venue. Soulful and Merriweather celebrate the best of our community, our country, and our culture, and now thousands of people have an opportunity to hear and see our forward-looking and dynamic vision for the future,” said Ian Kennedy, executive director of the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission

Atwater’s latest original composition, South Side, Symphonic Dances, was commissioned by the Mann Center, where it premiered to great acclaim last summer with the Philadelphia orchestra. As a part of Soulful’s Merriweather residency, new pieces by Atwater will be commissioned and premiered, in addition to the focus on the canon of American music.

Three concerts are scheduled during Soulful Symphony’s first season at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The next two events will be “Slang” on July 28, 2019, and “Under an Open Heaven” on September 14, 2019.

Darin Atwater is the  artistic director and founder of Soulful Symphony and artistic director for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission.

Darin Atwater is the artistic director and founder of Soulful Symphony and artistic director for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission.

“Slang” will feature a mosaic of American composers in large form orchestral works from people’s musical soil takes center stage in this show. The show is an exploration of modern interpretations of classical music by groundbreaking and visionary composers. The program will include the world premiere ofSlang, a new work by Atwater, excerpts from his South Side, Symphonic Dances, along with iconic works by George Gershwin, Andre Previn, ending the evening with a soulful interpretation of The American Songbook.

In the final show of the season, Soulful gives new life to Columbia’s founder James Rouse’s vision to bring together faith congregations from around the community for an evening of inspiration and hope. Spirituality and Culture are explored – from Vedic mantras to the Islamic Call to Prayer. Hebrew Psalms to Gregorian chant, devotional Bhajans to Bach Chorales, traditional hymns to Gospel music.

Publisher Of Houston Forward Times, Elected As New NNPA National Chair

— Karen Carter Richards, publisher of the Houston Forward Times, has been elected to serve as the chair of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade organization that represents African American-owned newspapers and media companies throughout the country.

Richards, who in 2018 won the NNPA’s Publisher of the Year Award, succeeds Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers.

“We did it!” Richards exclaimed during an NNPA Legacy Awards presentation at the Cincinnati Westin Hotel on Friday, June 28, 2019.

The organization also selected a new first- and second- vice chair, secretary, treasurer and at-large board members.

The NNPA, which is celebrating its 79th year and 192 years of the Black Press in America, held its annual convention in the Queen City with Cincinnati Herald and Dayton Defender Publisher Jan Michele Kearney and Walter L. White, Vice President of Sesh Communications hosting the weeklong event.

“I just want to thank my family for all of their support,” said Richards, a second-generation publisher who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in journalism.

Her father, Julius P. Carter, founded the Houston Forward Times in 1960 after recognizing a need for a newspaper that was committed to covering issues and personalities routinely ignored by mainstream media.

After Julius Carter’s death, the legendary Lenora “Doll” Carter assumed responsibility for the Forward Times with Karen Carter Richards working alongside her.

Richards said she understands that being the chair comes with a lot of responsibilities and work.

After a fierce campaign, Richards said she will work to move the storied association forward, help to continue to provide Black America with critical news and information, and bridge any divides that might exist between members.

“I will win your trust,” Richards said. “This is a new vision and I’m excited about serving. We are the Black Press, the Original Black Press and I’m so happy to serve and be the new chair of the NNPA.”

The Houston native said the importance of the Black Press should never be lost on anyone.

“We are the voice, the true voice of our people. We have recorded our history for 192 years like no other media could ever do,” she said. “We have recorded many stories…our celebrations, our injustices and those hidden, treasured stories that came from our communities that we have always found value in. Let’s do this.”

Website Offers Insights Into The History Of African American Perspectives On The Fourth of July

The slight sulfuric scent of lit matches, the flaring-up of sparklers, and the sudden loud bang of firecrackers are as familiar to the Fourth of July as are the admonishments to use caution when handling fireworks.

Yet the freedoms Americans celebrate in this idealistic scene are not always the same. A public history project at Virginia Tech finds that, historically, African Americans’ sentiments about the holiday have been diverse.

A website, African American Fourth of July, summarizes the findings and analysis of Virginia Tech students who researched seven historical African American newspapers to trace the meanings behind Independence Day.

“These are newspapers for and by African Americans,” said Brett Shadle, the professor in whose introductory history course the students did their work. “These are the conversations African Americans had among themselves about what their politics should be, what their patriotism should be, and what their role is in the United States.”

His students transcribed more than 400 articles written between 1865 and 1988, including those from the Arkansas State Press (1941–1959), the Baltimore Afro-American (1893–1988), the Chicago Defender (1921–1968), the San Francisco Elevator (1865–1874), the Savannah Tribune (1876–1922), the Washington Bee (1883–1922), and the Wichita Negro Star (1920–1952).

Shadle selected the newspapers for their timelines — to ensure representation of viewpoints from the Civil War through the civil rights era — and their diverse locations.

“We can actually see the same arguments, the fight for rights, threading through the different periods,” said Shadle, who is also chair of Virginia Tech’s Department of History. “The Fourth of July during Reconstruction was generally positive because the people are now free, and they seem to have opportunities — they can vote, and many of them hold office in the South. It’s a time of hope and possibility, and the newspapers reflected that hope.”

But then, Shadle’s class discovered, the newspapers reflected an opposite response during the Jim Crow years, between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.

“The holiday seemed like a mockery,” Shadle said. “The day’s ideals were great, but not a reality for African Americans. People wanted to talk about life and liberty, but at the same time lynchings were taking place. So, they could celebrate the ideals, yet mourn their ongoing political exclusion.”

To create a cohesive project, the students organized into eight groups to uncover themes and to document the changes of attitudes over time. Each group centered their research on one newspaper, except for the longest running paper, the Chicago Defender, which two groups explored.

Each student focused on a five- to 10-year period, finding articles that related to Independence Day. They then transcribed the articles and added keyword tags. After summarizing each article, they shared their conclusions with the group to spot overall trends and themes.

With the help of Corinne Guimont, a digital publishing specialist with Virginia Tech Publishing, based in the University Libraries, the students had a platform on which to publish their research.

Shadle conceived of the project a year ago when a speech by Frederick Douglass began circulating on social media.

“The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me,” Douglass had said in his 1852 talk to a group of New York abolitionists. “This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

At the same time Shadle was reading this, his colleagues in the history department were launching Mapping the Fourth of July, a crowdsourced history website aimed at understanding how Americans celebrated July 4 during the Civil War. This caused Shadle to wonder what African American newspapers might reveal about what the day meant to African Americans throughout history.

He thought it would be a perfect project for his first-year student experience course, a class designed to introduce students to their major. It would provide the students with experiential learning opportunities as they navigated primary-source materials and processed information through group discussions. And Shadle discovered, at the launch of the website, that his students not only excelled in their research, but took great pride in it.

“The students hope this project doesn’t fade away,” Shadle said. “They want others to look at it and use it. They want people to have discussions about what patriotism means, what the Fourth of July means.”

National Society Of Black Engineers Honor African Americans In STEM Arena

It has been several years since then-President Barack Obama made improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), an education priority. In the ensuing period since Obama’s stated agenda, experts have said America would need to add one million more STEM professionals by 2022 to meet the nation’s evolving workforce needs.

There has also been an extensive call of action for African Americans to enter STEM fields and, arguably, no organization has done more than the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a nonprofit organization based whose mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.

“The NSBE has helped introduce many youth to STEM through its NSBE Jr. program, Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) camp and it has helped many college student through their collegiate experiences by providing avenues for study groups, mentoring, personal and professional development, and leadership opportunities,” said NSBE Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter President William Redmond. “For professionals, it has provided an avenue to give back to help positively impact the community through volunteering, mentoring, and serving as role models for both pre-college and collegiate students.”

The Baltimore Chapter of NSBE was started in March 1989 as one of the first 10 NSBE Alumni chapters in the country. In June, the Metropolitan Area Chapter (NSBE-BMAC) announced its Legacy Achievement Award Honorees at a ceremony in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. The honorees are: Dr. James West, who has authored numerous journal and conference proceedings papers and holds over 250 patents; Earnestine Baker, executive director-Emerita of the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Dr. Eugene M. DeLoatch, who served as the inaugural dean of the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., School of Engineering at Morgan State University.

Baltimore (Md.) LINKS-NSBE Jr. Chapter at Bluford-Drew-Jemison STEM Academy pictured with Robert Haynes and Deidra Walls.

Baltimore (Md.) LINKS-NSBE Jr. Chapter at Bluford-Drew-Jemison STEM Academy pictured with Robert Haynes and Deidra Walls.

“The purpose of the event was to celebrate the chapter’s 30th Anniversary by providing special recognition through Pre-Collegiate and Collegiate Chapter Excellence Awards, the William Thomas Batten Jr. Leadership Award, and Legacy Achievement Awards,” Redmond said.

The president noted that the one bit of information that could easily be missed about the NSBE is that it provides a bevy of great resources.

“One of the best ways to get the most of the NSBE experience is being actively involved either as a leader in the organization whether its local, regional or national,” Redmond said. “The earlier that people get involved the better. I have been actively involved because it is my responsibility to give back and pay it forward to help bring along the next generation of engineers.

“In the process of doing so, some of my best personal experiences and career advancements can be directly attributed to my various leadership roles in NSBE.”

To learn more about the NSBE or for details on becoming a leader at NSBE, visit: www.nsbe.org.

Memories Don’t Die

Last night, I sat at my mother’s house with my siblings and my longest friend and reminisced. We laughed and talked through everything we experienced through our childhood from our favorite teachers in high school to the memories we created growing up in our household. I found that through the good and the bad having the ability to recall and reflect brought the most joy. Memories are so important because of the emotions and nostalgia they bring.

Today, on the train I closed my eyes while listening to “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige and was overwhelmed with happiness. I closed my eyes and automatically thought about my dad because this was his jam. When I think about him I remember his love for music, his scent, his eccentric style. I love that although all memories of him weren’t the greatest the good outweighs the bad.

When you lose someone the only thing you have left are the memories and not having the ability to create new ones leaves you to hold on tight to the ones that you do have. After someone passes, most families come together sift through old photos and laugh and reflect on all of the good times spent with that individual and the mark they made on your life. Go through life thinking about how your actions will impact others. What will they say about you when you’re no longer here? It’s important not to create wasteful memories and leave a positive imprint on the lives of others.

Dwell on all of the good none of the bad but remember it all. Sometimes when you end a long-term relationship or friendship all you can think about is the hurt or the pain you experienced, but joy comes when you’re able to look back on a situation and reflect on the good times, lessons learned, and enjoy all the great memories you had. While it’s important to never forget the negative to avoid undergoing the same kind of hurt in the future, I’m always cognizant about the decision I make to dwell in the positive. Remember the memories that allowed you to experience love and happiness as those memories are the most important.

Going through life I often think about how necessary it is to create great memories with the ones you love. I often think about the photo album I’ll be able to pop out and show my kids and grandkids of the memories built with the love of my life. When I grow old and reflect on milestones I want to be able to say I shared those moments with the people that mean the most to me. Experience life and spend your time with those who are important and bring you the most joy.

Our past, present, and future are all linked through memories. This is how traditions are passed down and future decisions are made. We often hold on to the past because it means something to us. Always make the decision to create amazing memories for they never die.

Positively Caviar, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on a message of positivity and optimism. Once a month, our Nucleus Team writes a column focused on mental and physical health tips, scientific studies, nutrition facts and stories that are positive in nature to support a purposeful and positive lifestyle. To learn more about our organization, the nucleus team or how you join our positive movement, visit: staybasedandpositive.com

Giant’s National Barbecue Festival Kicks Off Summer

Giant’s annual National Capital Barbecue Battle came to a close last weekend. Tens of thousands of people came out to the nation’s capital for the competition and to enjoy two days of warm weather, delicious barbecue, live shows and a variety of vendors. There was plenty of grilled food, drinks and free samples to go around, as well as free activities and exhibitions for the community to enjoy.

Festival-goers flocked to meet Washington Redskins cheerleaders, compete in the Nathan’s hotdog eating contest, and to take pictures in front of the Planters Nutmobile, among an array of other unique attractions.

The Planter's Nutmobile

Jourdan Taylor

The Planter’s Nutmobile

Rows of vendor tents with cold drinks, small bites and other products to sample outlined the perimeter of the festival grounds. Healthcare screenings, charging stations and “chill zones” were available for the public to enjoy. Famous Daves, RXBar, Popsicle and Sabra among others presented us with tasty samples to refuel in the midst of summer heat under the marquee of The Giant Sampling tent. Although there was fun available for the whole family, adults were able to expand their palates at the Corks to Caps Wine and Microbrew Tasting Tent.

The smell of brisket, ribs and smoked turkey legs wafted through the air as dozens of diverse live bands and cooking exhibitions highlighted the lively and convivial energy of the festival throughout the weekend. Stars, including Tuffy Stone and Myron Mixon from Destination America’s TV show “BBQ Pit Masters” also made an appearance. Barbecue Master Mixon met with fans wanting to know the secret to a perfect brisket, and presented signed versions of his new cookbook.

The celebrity chefs competed side by side with pitmasters from all over the country, for several titles such as America’s Best Barbecue, Perdue Sizzlin’ Chicken Contest and the Jim Campbell Spirit of BBQ award. Dozens of pitmasters spent the weekend grilling as crowds of hungry people eagerly lined up to judge. Uncle Pig’s Barbecue Pit and Champion Wolf’s Revenge BBQ took home the grand prize as Grand Champion and Reserve Champion respectively. Members of the armed forces also competed head to head in the Military Chef Cookoff for attendees to sample and decide which branch of military grills the tastiest barbecue.

In addition to featuring superb food and live entertainment, The Giant Barbecue Battle annually raises funds for local charity causes, this year benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank and USO-Metro. If you were unable to take part in this year’s event, no need to worry. Next year’s festival is set to take place on June 27th 2020.

Ernest Gaines Book Award Raises Cash Prize To $15,000

— The underwriter of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence has raised the cash prize to $15,000 from $10,000 and the deadline for submitting books remains August 15, 2019. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation increased its support for its award that recognizes emerging African-American fiction writers, helping to sustain and encourage these writers.

“We want the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence to be known as the pre-eminent award in the field of African American literary fiction. We hope that the added funding will help each year’s winner to gain further freedom to pursue his or her art,” explained John Davies, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

The forthcoming Gaines Award, to be presented in January 2020, accepts submissions of outstanding fiction— novels or short-story collections— published in 2019. Galleys for publications are also accepted. Details about the award and submission criteria can be found at ernestjgainesaward.org.

The Gaines Award was created to honor outstanding literary work from African-American authors as well as recognize Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

The Gaines Award winner is chosen annually by a national panel of literary leaders. The award celebration will be held Thursday January 30, 2020 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.

The book prize has uncovered promising writers early in their careers, including two previous winners who have won the Whiting Award and another who was subsequently chosen as a MacArthur Fellow.

Ernest Gaines is a native of Pointe Coupee Parish near Baton Rouge. His critically acclaimed novel, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” was adapted into a 1974 made-for-TV movie that received nine Emmy awards.