Official Panelists

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Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels Dark at the Crossing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Green on Blue. His writings have appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, among other...

Charlie Braxton

Charlie Braxton

Charlie R. Braxton is a noted poet, playwright and cultural critics from Mississippi, the land where the blues begin. He is also one of the leading hip hop journalists of the 1990s. His feature articles, essays and reviews on various aspects of hip hop culture have appeared in top...

Dr. Nancy Bristow

Dr. Nancy Bristow

Nancy K. Bristow is a professor of history at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where she is also the Chair of the History Department, a founding member of the African American Studies Program, and a member of the Leadership Team of the Race and Pedagogy...

Cassandra King Conroy

Cassandra King Conroy

Cassandra King Conroy is an award-winning author of five novels, a book of nonfiction, numerous short stories, magazine articles, and essays. She has taught creative writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, and worked as a human interest reporter....

Ellen Rodgers  Daniels

Ellen Rodgers Daniels

Ellen Rodgers Daniels opens the next chapter in her forays into the heart of Mississippi culture. This Rolling Fork native brings a curious mind and a keen eye to the task, honed from her dozen years as a bookseller at Lemuria, her work as a gallery assistant at Fischer Galleries...

Roy DeBerry

Roy DeBerry

A native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, Roy is the Executive Director and one of the founders of the Hill Country Project. He was active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, first as a Freedom School student (whose teacher was Hill Country co-founder Aviva Futorian) and then...

Tim Fielder

Tim Fielder

Tim Fielder is an Illustrator, concept designer, cartoonist, and animator born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He has a lifelong love of Visual Afrofutuism, Pulp entertainment, and action films. He holds other Afrofuturists such as Samuel Delany,...

Robert W. Fieseler

Robert W. Fieseler

Robert W. Fieseler is the winner of the 2020 Columbia Journalism School First Decade Award, the 2019 NLGJA (National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association) Journalist of the Year and a debut nonfiction author. He currently lives with his husband and dog in New Orleans. He...

Gilbert Ford

Gilbert Ford

Gilbert Ford holds a BFA in illustration from Pratt Institute and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author-illustrator of How the Cookie Crumbled and The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring, which is a Best...

Bruce Golden

Bruce Golden

Bruce Golden, LMS (born in Mississippi; refuses to leave) Golden has worked in the Jackson Public School System for over 25 years—10 years as a middle school science teacher and the last 15 years as a librarian. He moved from the library at Peeples Middle School to the...

Richard Grant

Richard Grant

Richard Grant is an award-winning author, journalist, and television host. He currently writes for Smithsonian magazine, The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, the Telegraph (UK), and several other publications. He grew up in London, England, and now lives in Jackson,...

Matthew Guinn

Matthew Guinn

A native of Atlanta, Matthew Guinn earned a BA in English from the University of Georgia. He continued graduate school at the University of Mississippi, where he met his wife Kristen and completed a master’s degree. At the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Ph.D. in...

John Jennings

John Jennings

John Jennings is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of the Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. Jennings is also...

Pamela Junior

Pamela Junior

Motivational speaker, historian, and women’s activist, Pamela D.C. Junior is the newly appointed director of the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson, Mississippi. As former manager of Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, Pamela fought passionately and tirelessly to make the...

Kiese  Laymon

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon is the author of Long Division, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir.

P.J. Lee

P.J. Lee

P.J. Lee is a lifelong Mississippian, who splits his time between practicing law and screenwriting.

Ebony Lumumba

Ebony Lumumba

Ebony Lumumba is an associate professor of English at Jackson State University and serves as department chair. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi a Master of Arts in English from Georgia State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from...

John F. Marszalek III

John F. Marszalek III

John F. Marszalek III is a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in Mississippi. He has been a counselor educator for over 20 years and is currently clinical faculty of the online clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire...

Tiffany McDaniel

Tiffany McDaniel

Tiffany McDaniel is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything and Betty.

C. Liegh McInnis

C. Liegh McInnis

C. Liegh McInnis is an English instructor at Jackson State University, the former editor/publisher of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, the author of eight books, including four collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction (Scripts: Sketches and Tales of Urban...

Wayètu Moore

Wayètu Moore

Wayètu Moore is the author of the novel She would Be King, named a best book of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed. She is the founder of One Moore Book, a nonprofit organization that creates and distributes culturally relevant...

Brittney Morris

Brittney Morris

Brittney Morris is the author of Slay. She holds a BA in economics from Boston University because back then, she wanted to be a financial analyst. (She’s now thankful that didn’t happen). She spends her spare time reading, playing indie video games, and enjoying the rain...

Tonja Murphy

Tonja Murphy

Jackson native Tonja Murphy is thrilled to join the team after serving on the Board of Directors. Tonja puts her love for community, students, and books to use with the Mississippi Book Festival, as she takes on the role of Community Engagement Coordinator.

Nina Parikh

Nina Parikh

Nina Parikh has been with the Mississippi Film Office for 22 years, currently serving as the director. She studied filmmaking at New York University and University of Southern Mississippi, worked in the industry as a producer, and currently teaches as an adjunct professor at...

Graham and Parker Phillips

Graham and Parker Phillips

Graham and Parker Phillips are brother writer/directors based out of New York and Los Angeles. Parker studied literature at Bucknell University while Graham studied U.S. History at Princeton where he wrote his thesis on indigenous marginalization and resistance in the United States....

Ron Rash

Ron Rash

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight;...

John Sanders

John Sanders

I am the Serials and Reference Librarian at the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College. I have spent 16 years working in academic and public libraries where I have taught bibliographic instruction to first-year students and led workshops for first-time puppeteers. In my free...

Michael Farris Smith

Michael Farris Smith

Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of Blackwood, The Fighter, Desperation Road, and Rivers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes &...

Nic Stone

Nic Stone

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to...

Hillary Taylor

Hillary Taylor

Hillary Taylor is a native Mississippian. She is the Event Director at Lemuria Books and has been a bookseller there for 5 years. She lives in Brandon, MS with her husband, Andrew.

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an...

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey is a former US poet laureate and the author of five collections of poetry as well as a book of creative non-fiction. She has held appointments at Duke University, Emory University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Yale University. She is currently...

Donna-lyn Washington

Donna-lyn Washington

Donna-lyn Washington edited John Jennings: Conversations, part of the University Press of Mississippi’s Conversations with Comic Artists Series. She is adjunct lecturer of English at Kingsborough Community College, and she is also senior editor and senior writer at...

Jerid Woods

Jerid Woods

Jerid P. Woods (Akili Nzuri) is a writer, PhD Candidate, and literary influencer from Natchez, MS. He’s also a high school English teacher and the owner and operator of ablackmanreading.com and the instagram page: @ablackmanreading.

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