Virginia Hamilton Conference

The Virginia Hamilton Conference is the longest-running event in the United States to focus exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults. Honoring author Virginia Hamilton, the conference reflects a commitment to promoting cultural awareness and affirming cultural pride while addressing the array of issues which surround the concept of culture. In 2018, Kent State University, the University of Akron, and others are joining forces with the Virginia Hamilton Conference to present a literacy and children's literature conference on October 12, 2018.
Virginia Hamilton Headshot

Virginia Hamilton’s maternal grandfather, Levi Perry, had escaped from slavery as a child in Virginia by crossing the Ohio River to freedom. He had also had plenty of company in this resolve: Fully 50,000 slaves passed through Ohio or settled there during antebellum times, aided on the Underground Railroad by Shawnee Indians and white abolitionists. The aging homes where the escaped slaves hid became catacombed with secret passages and hiding spaces. All these years later, the description of what happened in those hiding places and “stations” on the Underground Railroad still makes modern children’s eyes grow wide.

Young Virginia, named for her grandfather’s home state, was one of these children listening at her mother’s and father’s knees. “My mother said that her father sat his ten children down every year and said, ‘I’m going to tell you how I escaped from slavery, so slavery will never happen to you,”’ the author related in a telephone interview. She added that she traces her own interest in literature to the fact that her parents were “storytellers and unusually fine storytellers, and realized, although I don’t know how consciously, that they were passing along heritage and culture and a pride in their history.”  read more

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