Derrick Barnes is the author of the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten, as well as the critically acclaimed multi-award-winning picture book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut which received a Newbery Honor, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, and the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. He also wrote the bestselling chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys. In 2020, he became the only author, in the history of the award, to have won the Kirkus Prize twice for his twelfth release, the New York Times bestseller, I Am Every Good Thing. Derrick is a graduate of Jackson State University (BA-Marketing ’99) and was the first African-American male creative copywriter hired by greeting cards giant Hallmark Cards. He is a native of Kansas City, MO, but currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his enchanting wife, Dr. Tinka Barnes, and their four sons, the Mighty Barnes Brothers.
Gordon C. James
Gordon C. James is the award-winning illustrator of Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, written by Derrick Barnes, for which Gordon received the Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor and Ezra Jack Keats Honor awards, among others. Some of his other works include illustrations of Patricia McKissack’s Scraps of Time series.
Pierce Freelon is an American politician, musician and academic. He is a current member of Durham City Council representing Ward 3. Freelon is the founder of Blackspace, an Afrofuturist digital makerspace. He co-founded Beat Making Lab, an Emmy Award winning PBS web-series. He is co-director, writer and composer of The History of White People in America, a PBS animated series. He is a Children's Music artist and producer.