05-21-2018  7:41 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

The Latest: Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on the case of LGBTQ discrimination at an Oregon high school.6:30 p.m.:The principal of an Oregon high school will resign and its school district will commit to improving the climate for LGBTQ students as part of a settlement reached between the American Civil...

Paul Allen donates jumiM to Washington gun initiative

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft co-founder and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen has donated jumi million to a campaign seeking to raise the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 in Washington state.Allen made the announcement on Twitter Monday.The Alliance for Gun Responsibility says...

Man accused of trying to kill woman with opioid spray

MUKILTEO, Wash. (AP) — An Everett man is accused of holding down his ex-girlfriend at a Mukilteo hotel, shoving Xanax down her throat and forcing a fentanyl spray up her nose in what police say was attempted murder.The Daily Herald reports the woman survived and was able to escape and alert...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Settlement reached in LGBT school harassment

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An openly gay couple was walking in their Oregon high school parking lot when the principal's son drove up, veered away at the last second and shouted an anti-gay slur at the two girls. In class, a teacher equated same-sex marriage with bestiality.The girls complained to...

Correction: 2018 Midterms-Endorsements story

ATLANTA (AP) — In a story May 20 about potential Democratic presidential candidates and their campaign activity in 2018, The Associated Press reported erroneously that former Vice President Joe Biden was planning to campaign in North Carolina on behalf of a congressional candidate Dan...

Border agent questions 2 women for speaking Spanish

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reviewing an encounter between a Border Patrol agent and two women who were speaking Spanish at a gas station in northern Montana, the agency said Monday.Allegations have been made before of law-enforcement officers in...

ENTERTAINMENT

Netflix says it has signed Barack and Michelle Obama

NEW YORK (AP) — Barack and Michelle Obama are getting into the television business with Monday's announcement that they had signed a multi-year deal with Netflix.The former president and first lady have formed their own production company, Higher Ground Productions, for the material. In...

Artist Robert Indiana, known for 'LOVE' series, dies at 89

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Pop artist Robert Indiana, best known for his 1960s "LOVE" series, has died at his island home off the coast of Maine. He was 89.Indiana died on Saturday from respiratory failure at his Victorian home in a converted Odd Fellows hall, a fraternal order lodge, where he...

Miss Nebraska wins Miss USA competition

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Miss Nebraska has been named Miss USA.Sarah Rose Summers beat out 50 other women from all the states and the District of Columbia.At the start of the two-hour broadcast, the field was immediately narrowed down to 15 contestants according to how they performed during...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

What is lava haze? A look at Hawaii's latest volcanic hazard

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is pouring into the sea and setting off a chemical...

Syrian government declares capital fully under its control

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's military on Monday captured an enclave in southern Damascus from Islamic State...

Divided Supreme Court sides with businesses over workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that businesses can prohibit their workers from...

Congo Ebola vaccination campaign begins with health workers

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo began an Ebola vaccination campaign Monday in a northwest provincial capital...

Social media under microscope in emotive Irish abortion vote

DUBLIN (AP) — In homes and pubs, on leaflets and lampposts, debate is raging in Ireland over whether to...

Aide: Palestinian leader making swift recovery in hospital

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is alert and making a swift recovery after being...

Cover of Birds of Opulence and photo of author Crystal Wilkinson. Photo by Ron Davis
Baton Rouge Area Foundation

BATON ROUGE, La. – Kentucky writer, poet and educator Crystal Wilkinson’s novel, “Birds of Opulence,” has been named winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

Now in its 10th year, the Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $10,000 prize handed out annually by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from rising African-American fiction writers while honoring Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include T. Geronimo Johnson for “Welcome to Braggsville,” Attica Locke for “The Cutting Season,” Stephanie Powell Watts for “We Are Taking Only What We Need” and Dinaw Mengestu for “How to Read the Air.”

Award ceremonies take place at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. Wilkinson will read excerpts from her winning novel. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org.

Wilkinson earned a journalism degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1985 and a master’s degree in fine arts for creative writing from Spalding University in Louisville. As an educator, she has taught creative writing at Eastern Kentucky, Indiana University-Bloomington and Morehead State University. Currently, she serves as writer in residence at Berea College in Kentucky.

“Birds of Opulence” is Wilkinson’s first novel, though many of her works have garnered critical acclaim. “Blackberries, Blackberries,” a collection of short stories, won the 2002 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. “Water Street,” another short-story collection, was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and the U.K.’s Orange Prize for Fiction.

“Birds of Opulence” follows several generations of women in the Goode-Brown family in the fictional Southern black township of Opulence. The family is plagued by mental illness and illegitimacy, as well as the accompanying embarrassment. As younger generations watch their mothers and grandmothers pass on, they also fear going mad and must fight to survive.

Due to the exceptional quality of entries, judges for the Gaines Award short-listed three books for commendation this year – “The Side of Providence,” by Rachel M. Harper, “Triangle Ray” by John Holman and “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” by Kaitlyn Greenidge.

The national panel of judges for the 2016 Gaines Award are: Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner for his 2003 novel, “The Known World”; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; renowned author Elizabeth Nunez, professor of English at Hunter College-City University of New York; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including “Blue Angel,” a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.

 

About Ernest Gaines

Ernest Gaines, a native of Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish and a literary legend, is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

His critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His 1993 novel “A Lesson Before Dying” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

 

About the Baton Rouge Area Foundation

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is one of the Gulf Coast region’s largest community foundations. Winner of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2011 Award for Outstanding Foundation, BRAF connects donors to projects and nonprofit groups, along with investing in and managing community projects. For more information, visit BRAF.org

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