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Alexandria Book and Cultural Festival to Feature Michelle Obama’s Photographer Among Other Notable Headliners

Authors Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Amanda Lucidon and Jesse J. Holland headline first annual book festival on Sunday, April 7 in Alexandria, Va

Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Northern Virginia Chapter’s Youth Cultural Book & Arts Festival Celebrates and Promotes Youth Literacy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 21, 2019) – Jack and Jill of America, Inc.’s Northern Virginia Chapter, along with Hayfield Black Student Union and AVID will host the first annual Youth Cultural Book & Arts Festival on Sunday, April 7 from 1-5 p.m. at Hayfield Secondary School, 7630 Telegraph Road in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, Va. The event is free of charge to attendees, but registration is required at

The 2019 Youth Cultural Book & Arts Festival will feature authors, activities and books from which youth and adults of ages can interact, learn and appreciate, with mainstage programming, as well as programming and entertainment dedicated to teens and younger children. In addition, local authors and artisans will meet with book festival attendees and will sell their books, African American cloth dolls, jewelry, soap and more. Harambee Books will be an onsite bookseller of a variety of cultural youth books.

The mainstage program includes interactive presentations, interviews and meet & greets with nationally renowned authors Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge; and Never Caught, the young readers edition); Amanda Lucidon, Michelle Obama’s White House photographer (Reach Higher and Chasing Light); and Jesse J. Holland (Who is the Black Panther?). Jesse J. Holland will be interviewed by podcaster and storyteller Angélique Roché. Authors will be available for book signings after their presentations, and the first 100 attendees will receive a free copy of Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught young readers edition.

Children ages 0 to 8 will enjoy programming in the Children’s Corner, sponsored by BASIS Independent McLean. The Children’s Corner will feature a live performance from Callaloo, a Washington, DC-based group that promotes cultural understanding and social awareness education for toddlers and children. In addition, children and families can meet several self-published authors, and will be treated to special book readings by dads of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.’s Northern Virginia Chapter.

Teenagers will participate in panels just for them and separated by gender. Rodney Walker, author of A New Day One: Trauma, Grace, and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale; and Daryl Towe, author of Conquering Purpose: 7 Assists to Overcoming Average will lead a discussion for teen boys. Danielle Craddock, founder/director of Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, Inc., will lead the teen girls’ discussion. Also participating in the teen programming are the senior teenagers of the Alexandria-Mt. Vernon Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. They published a collective book of essays titled Why I Matter: A Teen Perspective.

Mainstage author bios:

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge Never Caught was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for nonfiction. In November 2018 Dunbar was named joint winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize for Never Caught.


Amanda Lucidon is an award-winning documentarian, filmmaker, and former freelance New York Times photographer who served as one of the White House photographers responsible for photographing First Lady Michelle Obama from 2013 to 2017. She is one of only a few female White House photographers in history. Amanda attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she studied communications media and journalism; she also studied photography at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Amanda’s work has been honored by Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism, and the White House News Photographers Association, among others. She is currently a photographer, filmmaker, and public speaker. For more information on Amanda, please visit

Jesse J. Holland is an award-winning journalist and novelist and the author of the first novel featuring comics’ most popular black superhero, The Black Panther. He is also the author of the award-winning  book, The Invisibles: African American Slavery Inside the White House and Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C. Jesse is a race & ethnicity reporter for The Associated Press, responsible for coverage and analysis of this nation’s minority and ethnic groups for the world’s largest news organization.

Angélique Roché is a podcaster, storyteller, and professional nerd. She is also a writer and photographer who has contributed to NBC News, Black Girl Nerds, and Rewire News. She is currently the host of Marvel Entertainment’s Marvel’s Voices podcast, SYFY Wire’s podcast Geeksplain, co-host of the independent live podcast The Radical Geeks and a part-time host and voice-over artist at SiriusXM Progress.


Jack of Jill of America, Inc. Northern Virginia Chapter was chartered in 1966 in Arlington, Va. Chapter members live in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. The mission of the Northern Virginia Chapter is to educate, inspire and empower children of color to lead, starting with our own.

Jack and Jill of America, Inc., is a membership organization of mothers with children ages 2 – 19, dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty.


Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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