Read more about Carolivia Herron's Book Nappy Hair

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Professor Carolivia Herron


Professor Carolivia Herron is an author and educator currently living in Washington, DC. She is the founder and president of EpicCenter Stories, a nonprofit creative writing and educational organization. The mission of EpicCenter Stories is to promote art, to enhance creative critical thinking and to increase literacy by developing interconnected community stories as artistic literary epics. These epics link to online and classroom lessons in language arts, math, science, social science, visual art, and performing arts and they are designed primarily, though not exclusively, for students pursuing the GED, high school diplomas, and /or completing Basic Education Requirements in Washington, DC.

A major program of EpicCenter stories is the PAUSE program (Potomac Anacostia Ultimate Story Exchange), which pairs young writers with e-mail mentors from Carolivia's synagogue, Tifereth Israel of Washington, DC, as well as from the Kiwanis Club and local churches.

Herron is best known as the author of the controversial children's book, Nappy Hair, which is associated with the crisis in diversity education in the United States. Most recently, when the women's basketball team of Rutgers University was insulted by a journalist in national media, CNN published an online opinion piece by Carolivia, including a slide show of her reading from Nappy Hair.

Carolivia's most recent book, Always An Olivia,; relates the history of her Jewish ancestor, Sarah bat Asher, who was kidnapped from Italy by Barbary pirates in 1805. Sarah was protected by the Jewish community in Tripoli, Libya, and then rescued by the US Marines who took her and her ex-pirate husband to the Georgia Sea Islands. There they lived among the Geechees, free people of West African heritage. The story, which was told to Carolivia by her 103-year-old great grandmother Olivia Smith, also tells of how Sarah's earlier Jewish ancestors were expelled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. In every generation, for 500 years, one little girl in the family was given a name associated with peace, Shulamit (shalom) or Olivia (olive branch of peace).

Dr. Herron's other major publications include: Thereafter Johnnie (Random House, 1991), The Selected Writings of Angelina Weld Grimkz (Oxford, 1991), and Little Georgia and the Apples (EpicCenter Stories, 2006). Her work in progress, Asenath and Our Song of Songs, imagines the life of the Ancient African (Egyptian) woman who married Joseph, son of Israel.

Carolivia received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (epic literary genre) from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also received a master's degree in Creative Writing. She also holds two degrees in English Literature, an MA from Villanova University and a BA from Eastern University. Her professorial career was primarily at Harvard University, Mount Holyoke College, California State University, Chico, and the College of William and Mary.

She has been a visiting scholar in Judaic Studies and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University, Hebrew College (Newton, MA), the Harvard Divinity School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was also a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico, Zaire, and the Republic of Congo. In her synagogue she chairs the Africa sub-committee of the Social Action Committee and co-edits the shul's newsletter, The Menorah.