The American Library Association honored “Heavy: An American Memoir”—Kiese Laymon’s account of growing up Black in Mississippi—with its Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction yesterday (January 27). The author and professor announced on Twitter that he will donate the $5,000 prize money to youth in his home state.
Mama taught me how to read. Grandmama taught me how to pray. Health willing, we’ll all be accepting this award in DC. Every dime of it is going to kids in Jackson and the Mississippi Delta. We heavy. Let’s abundantly fund our public libraries and public schools. So thankful. https://t.co/Q6giTJv3KI
— Kiese (@KieseLaymon) January 28, 2019
Laymon talked to Colorlines about where he will donate the money:
Half of the money will go to Mississippi Votes, a youth-based Jackson group that focuses on felony voter registration, trans voter ID issues and increasing Black and immigrant turnout through civic engagement. The other half will go to Sunflower County Freedom Project, an organization I work with in the Mississippi Delta [that focuses] on arts enrichment and academic preparedness for young children.
Just under 38 percent of the population of Mississippi is Black. That percentage jumps to 81.7 percent for Jackson and 74 percent for Sunflower County.