For Immediate Release

August 18, 2021

Contact: Neil Henriques, Interim Executive Director


The 2021 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continues the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by Black writers from the United States and around the world. Now in its 20th year, the Annual Legacy Awards Ceremony honors an esteemed group of authors and brings together writers, readers, scholars, publishers, journalists, and cultural activists to celebrate the best in Black literature. The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2020 in the categories of debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More than 160 books were submitted by publishers and self-published authors. The judges – all Legacy Award Honorees from previous years – worked independently of the foundation to evaluate the books for artistic excellence and contribution to the literary canon.

We invite you to join us virtually from the comfort of your homes to celebrate Black literary excellence at 7:00 PM EST on October 15, 2021.

The Nominees for the 2021 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are: 

Debut Fiction

Black Sunday, Tola Rotimi Abraham (Catapult)

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia University Press)

Remembrance, Rita Woods (Forge Books, imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, division of Macmillan Publishers)

The Coyotes of Carthage, Steven Wright (Ecco/HarperCollins)


These Bodies, Morgan Christie (Tolsun Books)

Ring Shout, P. Djeli Clark (TorDotCom Publishing, imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, division of Macmillan Publishers)

Telephone, Percival Everett (Graywolf Press)

Book of the Little Axe, Lauren Francis-Sharma (Grove Atlantic)

The Freedom Artist, Ben Okri (Akashic Books)

Black Bottom Saints,  Alice Randall (HarperCollins Publishers)


Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, Vincent Brown ( Harvard University Press, Belknap Press Imprint)

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, Marcia Chatelain (Liveright Publishing (W. W. Norton & Company)

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, Deirdre Mask (St. Martin's Press)

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press)

The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, Ainissa Ramirez (MIT Press)

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, Natasha Trethewey (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Tommye Blount (Four Way Books)

Seeing the Body: Poems, Rachel Eliza Griffiths (W. W. Norton & Company)

Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems, Erica Hunt (Nightboat Books)

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, John Murillo (Four Way Books)

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande Books)

Pale Colors In a Tall Field, Carl Phillips (Farrar Straus and Giroux)


The Judges
Debut Fiction: David Anthony Durham,  Amina Gautier, Donna Hemans
Fiction: Clyde W. Ford, Kim McLarin, Dinaw Mengestu
Nonfiction: Brittney Cooper, Chris Farley, Ron Stodghill
Poetry: Chanda Feldman, Donika Kelly, Asiya Wadud 

The Legacy Awards ceremony historically draws an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. Legacy Awards for books of fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction, and poetry will be presented during the ceremony. Erica Frederick and monét cooper, the 2021 Winners of the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, and Prince Shakur, the winner of the 2021 Crossover Award, will be honored during the event. The Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers is presented under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers and the Hurston/Wright Crossover Award is presented in partnership with ESPN's The Undefeated. This year's virtual awards will feature musical performances, public readings and an array of special guests.

About the Hurston/Wright Foundation: The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to discovering, mentoring and honoring Black writers. Through workshops, master classes and readings, the organization preserves the voices of Black writers in the world literary canon, serves as a community for writers, and continues a tradition of literary excellence in storytelling established by its namesakes. The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Learn more at

Hurston/Wright Foundation
10 G Street NE, Suite 600  | Washington, District of Columbia 20002
(202) 248-5051 |

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