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Educator Darwin Henderson Selected for National Literature Award Jury

Date: Jan. 21,2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: Profiles

A University of Cincinnati educator was named to the national panel that selects outstanding African American authors and illustrators for the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Award. Darwin Henderson, UC associate professor of teacher education, was selected for the seven-member Coretta Scott King award jury in January. He will begin his two-year term in the fall. Darwin Henderson collects books that positively portray many cultures

The 2001 recipients of the Coretta Scott King Award will be announced Jan. 21, on the Martin Luther King holiday. Henderson says the award, a tradition since 1972, honors authors and illustrators whose works promote an understanding and appreciation of the African American culture and its contributions to the American Dream. The award is in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the dedication and determination of his wife, Coretta Scott King, to continuing the civil rights leader's quest for peace and world brotherhood.

Henderson's expertise is in multicultural literature for children and young adults. He says the jury appointment is a "comfortable fit" in a career dedicated to promoting literature that positively portrays children of many cultures.

"It's work that I'm passionate about. This is a continuation of my life's work around multicultural literature and specifically around African American literature, so with this position, my life's work continues to grow."

Henderson was selected for the jury by the chair of the Coretta Scott King Award task force, Carole J. McCollough. "Four of the members are elected by the task force and three are selected by the chair," she explains.

"After seeing Dr. Henderson's expertise in African American children's literature and his sense of caring about those materials, I knew we wanted someone of his stature on the award jury. His knowledge, research and university background enhances the quality of what we are seeking to accomplish on the award jury," says McCollough.

The jury reads between 80-150 titles between September and December that are submitted for consideration by the publishers. The final decision on award winners is made by the jury in mid January at the American Library Association conference.

Additionally, Henderson will be a key participant in the selection of the John Steptoe New Talent Award for newly published writers whose work shows promise in upholding the spirit of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Henderson is active in several national literacy and child advocacy organizations. He serves on a coalition to support an initiative under the Children's Defense Fund's Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC). The coalition promotes the reading curriculum of the BCCC-sponsored Freedom Schools, which provide summer learning programs for children.

Henderson has previously been a member of the advisory board of the Children's Literature Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English. He's also a member of the International Reading Association, as well as a member of the advisory board of the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature at Kent State University.

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