is an American novelist, most widely recognized for his crime fiction. He has written a series of best-selling historical mysteries featuring the hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, a black private investigator and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles; they are perhaps his most popular works.
Anna Deveare Smith
is an African-American actress, playwright, and professor. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress. Smith is widely known for her roles as National Security Advisor Nancy McNally in The West Wing and as Hospital Administrator Gloria Akalitus in the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. She is a recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2013), one of the richest prizes in the American arts with a remuneration of $300,000.
is an American actor, film director and political activist. Glover is well known for his roles as Mr. Albert Johnson in The Color Purple, as Michael Harrigan in Predator 2, as corrupt cop James McFee in Witness, as Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film franchise (where he coined the catchphrase “I’m too old for this shit”), as Detective David Tapp in Saw, and as George Knox in Angels in the Outfield. He has also appeared in many other movies, television shows, and theatrical productions. He is an active supporter of various humanitarian and political causes.
is a Nigerian writer, notable especially as a playwright and poet; he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first person in Africa and the diaspora to be so honoured.
Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. After study in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria’s political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections. In 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.
was an African-American poet, activist, small press publisher and spoken-word performance artist whose voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic and dynamic innovations in lyricism and visceral sound. Her writing is part of the canon of the Black Arts Movement. Cortez was the Co-Founder of OWWA, the Organization of Women Writers of Africa and the originator of Yari Yari, “Continuing the Dialogue” a series of conferences connecting women writers, scholars and artists of African descent in conversation with a global audience.
is an afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the “Golden Voice of Africa” but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. This royal heritage meant that under the Malian caste system, he should never have become a singer, which was deemed to be a griot’s role.
David Levering Lewis
is the Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History at New York University. He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, for part one and part two of his biography of W. E. B. Du Bois (in 1994 and 2001, respectively). He is the first author to win two Pulitzer Prizes for biography for back-to-back volumes.
The author of eight books and editor of two more, Lewis’s field is comparative history with special focus on twentieth-century United States social history and civil rights. His interests include nineteenth-century Africa, twentieth-century France, and Islamic Spain.
is a South African trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, and singer. He is the father of American television host Sal Masekela.
is an American jazz pianist and composer, of Jamaican parentage.
Randy Weston’s piano style owes much to Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk (he has paid direct tribute to both on the “portraits” albums), but it is highly distinctive in its qualities: percussive, highly rhythmic, capable of producing a wide variety of moods.