Literacy Shapers is an initiative that recognizes professional writers, artists, and other influencers who use their platforms to send meaningful messages while making a difference in Mississippi. To read poetry, short stories, essays, and articles by or about leaders from the Magnolia State, see the Literacy Shapers blog.
“Everyone has insecurities. Every place has its flaws. But in my art, I have full control over my narrative as a Mississippian. No one gets that privilege but me.”
Poet & Educator,
"I’m from long thick vines that carried me across a deep, dark creek and muscadines that stung my lips and made weary tree limbs hang."
Writer & Educator
"My HBCU experience [at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS] taught me that our heritage is rooted in surviving adversities; making the impossible, possible; and building upon the foundation established by our ancestors."
Owner of Marshall's Music and Bookstore
Minneapolis, Minnesota Native
“I come from a long line of people concerned with the plight of our [Black] people. My roots are in Utica, Mississippi, where my great-grandmother founded a church school and burial ground after having been enslaved.”
Dr. J. Janice Coleman,
Quilter, Writer, & Educator
Mound Bayou, MS
“I think I started sewing quilts in the womb since quilting was just a part of everyday life in my world, and fabric scraps were so plentiful. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, which turned into a lifelong passion.”
Writer & Educator
"My grandfather survived the Great Depression; racism during some of the most traumatizing eras; a world war; and other blistering life circumstances. He was educated at Fisk, Tuskegee Institute, Alcorn State University, and Tennessee State University. He was a science teacher, school administrator, and farmer. He purchased 100 acres of land, some of which he plowed with a tractor that he made himself. He hustled -- hard. My family is still reaping."