First Book to Co-sponsor National Antiracist Book Festival, hosted by American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center

(WASHINGTON) April 4, 2019—The National Antiracist Book Festival, the first book festival of its kind organized around authors writing for racial equity and justice, will be hosted by American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center on AU’s campus on Saturday, April 27. Along with nationally renowned writers, journalists, poets, and scholars who have recently published critically acclaimed books, the festival will include workshops for aspiring writers with leading literary agents and book editors. This year’s inaugural festival primarily features authors of anti-black racism and its intersections. 

“The inaugural Antiracist Bookfest will offer one of the most distinguished lineups of antiracist authors ever assembled for a book festival,” said National Book Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “We are making history with this incredible collection of bestselling, award-winning and popular authors, who often headline events. We are delighted they each agreed to come together and launch the Antiracist Bookfest, while supporting our work in the Antiracist Research and Policy Center.”

Sample of authors in attendance:

  • National Book Critics Circle Award-winning historian Carol Anderson
  • National Magazine Award-winning reporter Shane Bauer 
  • Bancroft Prize-winning Yale historian David Blight
  • New York Times bestselling-author Robin DiAngelo 
  • National Book Award Finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar
  • Award-winning Harvard professor and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates
  • New York Times bestselling-author Morgan Jerkins
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess
  • Award-winning Washington Post editor Steve Luxenberg
  • Nationally renowned Campaign Zero Co-Founder DeRay McKesson
  • New York Times bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo
  • New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds
  • Award-winning poet and writer Clint Smith 
  • PEN Open Book Award winner Nafissa Thompson-Spires 
  • New York Times bestselling author D. Watkins
  • National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson

“Book festivals have spread and grown across the United States in the last decade,” Kendi said. “During that same period, books on racism have attracted an increasing crowd of American readers, who have been striving to make sense of the presidency of Barack Obama, police violence, Black Lives Matter, immigration battles, Confederate monuments, white nationalist organizing, and Donald Trump, among other topics.”

“Nearly all book festivals are location oriented; few are issue oriented,” Kendi added. “If there is an issue that has yielded a wellspring of popular literature, if there is any group of American authors who can carry a book festival, then it is those prominent authors writing on racism. If there is a place this festival should be held, it is in the nation’s capital, as racism has always divided the nation. But the written word has historically paved the way towards racial understanding, healing, and progress in the United States. We aim for this Antiracist Bookfest to once again show the transformative power of the book to shape a better nation.”

The National Antiracist Book Festival will be a ticketed event. Ticketed portions will include author panel discussions and workshops for aspiring writers. Free workshops will be held for educators and youth, and on photography and self-care. All proceeds from ticket sales for the Antiracist Bookfest will go to the work of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, started at AU in fall 2017. The center is based on a new vision of change that’s grounded in historical revelation and focuses on policy change.  

The National Antiracist Book Festival will be held on AU’s Washington College of Law campus in the neighborhood of Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.

The Antiracist Research and Policy Center thanks the Marguerite Casey Foundation for a generous grant in support of the festival. The official bookseller at the festival is Politics and Prose. First Book, an organization that works to improve equality in education and works with educators who serve children in need, is a festival partner.

Media Contact: Event is by RSVP. Media members are required to RSVP with Rebecca Basu, American University Communications, 202-885-5950,

About American University

The mission of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University is to produce knowledge for change’s sake. We engage in research of racial inequity and discrimination that leads to policy innovation and implementation. In its 125-year history, American University has established a reputation for producing changemakers focused on the challenges of a changing world. AU has garnered recognition for global education, public service, experiential learning and politically active and diverse students, as well as academic and research expertise in a wide range of areas including the arts, sciences, humanities, business and communication, political science and policy, governance, law and diplomacy.