A Message from ALA President, Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.




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Featured Speakers

Diversity / Race Relations

Statement Makers.   Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain are Opening Session speakers, Saturday, January 23, 10:00 – 11:00 am.  Hear from Kendi and Blain as they discuss their process and mission as they co-edited Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. The book is a "choral history" of African Americans covering 400 years of history in the voices of 80 writers.   Emmanuel Acho will present on Sunday, January 24, 3:30 – 4:00pm. Acho found himself presented with many questions from friends, family, and associates following the civil unrest during the Summer of 2020. It prompted him to begin a YouTube channel, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.  The viral series led to his first book, of the same name, as well as a partnership with Oprah Winfrey. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy, a new book from Acho, will be available Spring 2021.   Joy Harjo is the ALA President’s Program Featured Speaker.  Harjo is a poet, musician, author, playwright, and the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate. Hear from her Sunday, January 24, 11:00am – 12:30pm when she discusses her mission as U.S. Poet Laureate and her creative work.


Iconic Women.  First Lady Jill Biden will close Midwinter Virtual, Monday, January 25, 11:15am –12:00pm. Dr. Biden will speak with ALA President, Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. to discuss her work as a community college instructor and literacy advocate.  Join Ruby Bridges on the Diversity Presentation Stage, Friday, January 22, 4:00 – 4:30pm.  Bridges is a civil rights activist who, at the age of six, was the first Black student to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. She will discuss This Is Your Time, her first book in more than twenty years.   Cicely Tyson is a legendary actress, lecturer, activist, and one of the most respected talents in American theater and film history. Join her when she speaks, Sunday, January 25, 12:30 – 1:00pm. Hear her incredible life story and special memories when she discusses her memoir, Just As I Am.

Graphic Novels

Leaders in Comics.  Max Brooks is a famed graphic novel author. The film World War Z was based on his book of the same name.  See him Friday, January 22, 11:00 –11:30am, when he discusses his creative process for his book Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre and other projects.   In the Summer of 2020, Christian Cooper appeared in the news after an altercation with a woman while bird-watching in New York's Central Park.  His story compelled him to re-enter the world of graphics to write a graphic novel story dedicated to our youth. Join Cooper, along with his publishers Marie Javins and Alitha Evelyn Martinez as they discuss It's a Bird, the first story in a digital series of real-life experiences from various contributors. Stan Sakai is most famous for his original creation, Usagi Yojimbo, an epic graphic novel saga that began in 1984 and now spans more than 34 volumes. A star in the comics industry, Usagi has been published in sixteen languages. He will discuss his process and career when he presents on Friday, January 22, 11:30am – 12:00pm.

Find these amazing talents on the Graphic Novel and Gaming Presentation Stage. 

Children’s / Youth

Youth Messengers.  Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson co-authored Milo Imagines the World. Hear from them on the PopTop Stage, Friday, January 22, 3:00 – 3:30pm and discover why they wanted to tell this story and the process of writing their book.  Grammy Award musician and author Ziggy Marley will present on Saturday, January 23, 1:45 – 2:15pm. Marley will discuss his children's books, Music Is in Everything and My Dog Romeo. Both books are based on his children's reggae album, One More Time.  You may recognize Mina Starsiak-Hawk from her nationally-acclaimed hit renovation show, Good Bones on HGTV.  Built Together, Starsiak-Hawk's first book, is a delightful picture book that demonstrates to readers that families, like houses, need strong foundations. Hear from her on the Chapter One Presentation Stage, Friday, January 22, 1:00 – 1:30pm.

See our Full List of Featured Speakers