Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards

August 2 – October 27, 2019 - Mr. and Mrs. Chesley G. Magruder Gallery II

Featuring 101 award/honor-winning titles, Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, is the largest and most comprehensive presentation of Coretta Scott King illustrator winners and honorees ever assembled since the award was established in 1974. This touring exhibition is part of a national celebration of the Coretta Scott King Awards, celebrating 50 years as a champion of books about the African American experience.  Awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA) for books about the African American experience, Coretta Scott King Book Awards are among the brightest acknowledgements of children’s literature on America’s cultural landscape. The awards commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award and its association with American Library Association (ALA) originated in 1969. It came as the result of a discussion between two librarians and a publisher. The impetus flowed from the observation that no African American author or illustrator had ever been honored by the prestigious Newberry and Caldecott awards, established in 1922 and 1938, respectively. The first Coretta Scott King Book Award was presented to Lillie Patterson during the New Jersey Association meeting in May 1970, for her biography, Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace. Over the next twelve years, without official recognition from the executive board of ALA, the presentations continued, and in 1974, an illustrator award category was added. In 1982, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards became an officially recognized ALA award. 

Participating illustrators include: George Ford, Ashley Bryan, Leo & Diane Dillon, Tom Feelings, John Steptoe, Jerry Pinkney, Peter Magubane, Brian Pinkney, Bryan Collier, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Javaka Steptoe, E. B. Lewis, Colin Bootman, Christopher Myers, Floyd Cooper, Shane Evans, Baba Diakité, Kadir Nelson, James Ransome, Joe Sam, Synthia St. James, Michele Wood, Kathleen Atkins Wilson, Charles R. Smith, Daniel Minter, Frank Morrison, Nancy Devard, Sean Qualls, Faith Ringgold, Christian Robinson, Benny Andrews, and Reynolds Ruffins. Art on loan and courtesy of the artists.

This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL), Abilene, Texas, and debuted there on February 8, 2017.

Cover from the Book, Ray Charles

Cover from the Book, Ray Charles

George Ford

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Song of Uhuru from the Book, Out of Wonder

Ekua Holmes

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but in his heart he is king, so he crowns for himself and others he admires from the Book, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Art

Javaka Steptoe

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Cover Art from the Book, The Invisible Hunters

Joe Sam

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The Elder Council from the Book, Nelson Mandela

Kadir Nelson

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Wedding Festivities from the Book, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

John Steptoe

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