about & events

#VoteThatJawn, to bring young voters to the polls in Philadelphia in 2020, is going strong this summer. I direct youth leaders and interns, all fabulous. Follow us. Share. Register.

Coming June 2020: the paperback edition of my memoir, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century, from W.W. Norton Books, published in hardback last year to stunning reviews. Also available as an audiobook recording. Ladysitting chronicles our caregivers' mash-up of life and death, love and fear. So does the short opera, "The Gospel According to Nana," with composer Liliya Ugay. 

My General Tubman, my first play, enjoyed sold-out house at Philly's Arden Theatre, fromJanuary to COVID. Harriet Tubman time-travel, love, war, iambic pentameter...Director: James Ijames; Producing Artistic Director:Terry Nolen, and dramaturg Michele Volansky. Danielle Lénee led the gorgeous cast.

Non-fiction includes the best-selling memoir Black Ice and a collection of stories for young readers, Free! Great Escapes from Slavery on the Underground Railroad. Began writing professionally for TIME, TV Guide, and Newsweek. Now, my blogs appear on Medium.com. Novels include The Price of a Child, chosen as the first One Book One Philadelphia offering;  Pride; and If Sons, Then Heirs. I've written scripts for videos at The President's House exhibit on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. 


I teach Creative Writing at UPenn; grateful to have received the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching twice, most recently in 2017.  


Founded Art Sanctuary in1998 to enrich urban Philadelphia with the excellence of black arts, and stepped down as director in 2012. Other civic work: President of the Union Benevolent Association; and served on Philadelphia's School Reform Commission, as chair of the Safety Committee that eliminated zero-tolerance punishments for children.


Other honors: The Philadelphia Award, and honorary doctorates from Swarthmore, Muhlenberg, Colby, and Keene State Colleges, and Arcadia and Gwynedd Mercy Universities. 

Jane Dystel, of Dystel, Goodrich, and Bourret, has been a great literary agent and friend since before Black Ice. 

Jodi Solomon's speakers' bureau schedules my lectures: fast and friendly!

. . . More? Read and download:

Spring 2020 online "events" 

Archived: Ladysitting at Miami's Big Read
35th Annual Arts + Business Council Awards, PHL


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