2019 James Weldon Johnson Fellows in the Arts


Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books, including SWING, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, THE UNDEFEATED, HOW TO READ A BOOK, and his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor and three NAACP Image Award Nominations. In 2018, he opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. Kwame is the Founding Editor of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that aims to Change the World One Word at a Time. READ MORE

Russell Harris

Russell Harris is a versatile artist who paints the figure, still life scenes, and small, complex trompe l'oeils. His brushwork varies between loose and expressive, to highly refined and nearly imperceptible. Each work is carefully composed and restrained, giving each object or figure depicted a quiet power and intensity. Harris has exhibited nationwide at The New England Fire and History Museum in Cape Cod, MA, Gallery 323 in New York, and The Cornell Museum of Art in Delray Beach, FL to name but a few. READ MORE



Laura Migliorino

Laura Migliorino is a photographer who was born in Cleveland Ohio. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center, Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, The Minnesota Center for Book Arts and The Warehouse in Atlanta. She has exhibited internationally for over 30 years. Laura is a Professor of Art at Anoka-Ramsey Community College near Minneapolis. Migliorino's BFA is from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA is from the University of Minnesota. READ MORE

Karyn Parsons

Karyn Parsons is best known as the character “Hilary Banks” on the long-running tele- vision show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Karyn created the Sweet Blackberry Foun- dation after being inspired by the true tale of a determined enslaved man and the re- markable lengths he travelled to find his freedom. A mother and an activist, Karyn be- lieves that stories have the power to inspire youth. Karyn most recently released her debut novel "How High the Moon" published by Penguin Books. READ MORE



Randy Preston

Randy Preston is a singer-songwriter, educator and storyteller who grew up on 3 con- tinents. Raised in England and Kenya, he gained a deep appreciation for the lore, the myths and the legends of the places he has lived. Most recently, Preston has been fas- cinated with stories and songs of his grandmother’s tribe, the Piscataway people, a Na- tive American tribe local to Maryland and Northern VA. For the past two years, Preston has been touring with Kwame Alexander visiting schools and special events to enter- tain and engage people through catchy music and interactive storytelling. He’s written original songs for Kwame’s latest novels in verse REBOUND and SOLO. READ MORE