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Best-selling author Nic Stone named new 2023 MLK Convocation speaker at CWRU

Nic Stone has dedicated her life to writing stories she needed when she was younger; the stories that make us feel seen, represented, and ready to connect with others. She did not read about characters who looked like her or who came from a world like hers in those childhood books. Because of this, she wanted to bring her own story, along with the stories of people like her, to life. Stone believes that sharing our stories is vital to doing the essential work of racial and social justice.

Now, the best-selling author will draw from the themes in her work, while stressing the need for equity, accountability, and empowerment in reshaping our society toward antiracism during Case Western Reserve University’s 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation on Friday, Jan. 20, at 12:45 p.m. in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Ballroom in the Tinkham Veale University Center.

 “We must deconstruct the world as it is if we are to build a better one”, says Stone. Her talk highlights the importance of human connection in carrying Dr. King’s dream forward into a more tangible reality. Audiences will come away enlightened and motivated to act as a force for social change.

Stone’s talk, titled “Dear Martin Applying Dr. King’s Teachings in Modern America,” will call back to her debut novel, Dear Martin, in which lead character Justyce McAllister is racially profiled by a white cop, prompting him to begin a journal to the late Dr. King. Like many Americans, Stone was deeply affected by the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown—young, unarmed African American men who were killed without provocation. In response, she wrote Dear Martin, a project considering current affairs through the lens of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings. The book—and its companion novel Dear Justyce—both became instant New York Times bestsellers for their poignant exploration on the effects of systemic racism on the lives of African American youths.

Stone is a fierce advocate for reading freedoms in public education. While having her own work banned in some parts of the country, she fights for the rights of readers to pick up any book they choose and for authors to tell their authentic stories without fear of censorship. She has put her passionate convictions into practice in her award-winning novels, which have been lauded by NPR (her books have appeared twice on NPR’s Best Books of the Year list), The Atlantic and Publishers Weekly. Stone’s No.1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin was a William C. Morris Award Finalist and called “an unforgettable tour de force of social justice by Booklist. The Horn Book has lauded how Stone’s writing, which includes blockbusters Dear Justyce, Odd One Out, Jackpot and Clean Getaway, “carries the weight of history” as much as it is memorable, beautiful, and captivating. 

Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta.  After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Isreal for a few years before returning to the U.S. to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work. 

Registration is now open for the event and additional information is available on the convocation website.

This article was originally published Dec. 22, 2022.