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Commencement Speaker

kevin youngKevin Young

Incoming Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Poet, Author and Poetry Editor, The New Yorker

Nationally celebrated poet and author Kevin Young is the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, recently named a National Historic Landmark, and poetry editor of The New Yorker, where he hosts the poetry podcast. He will be the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture starting in January 2021.

He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020.

He has published 13 books of poetry and prose, most recently “Brown,” as featured on the “Daily Show with Trevor Noah;” “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” longlisted for the National Book Award; and “Book of Hours,” a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. His collection “Jelly Roll: a blues” was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Young’s second nonfiction book, “Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News,” won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice selection, and a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian, Vogue, The Atlantic, Nylon, BuzzFeed, and Electric Literature. Young’s previous nonfiction book, “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness,” won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award; it was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

Young is the editor of nine other collections, including “The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965- 2010” and “The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink.” He is the editor of the anthology “African American Poetry 1770–2020: 250 Years of Struggle & Song.”