Black Jewish History Month: Carolivia Herron

Today in Black Jewish History Month, Carolivia Herron.

How are YOU Jewish: Patrilineal, Convert

Carolivia Herron is a Jewish American writer of children’s and adult literature, and a scholar of African-American Judaica.

Born to Oscar Smith Herron and Georgia Carol (Johnson) Herron, in Washington D.C., Herron converted to Judaism in adulthood, and has paternal-line Jewish descent from her grandmother via Jewish Geechees.

She is a founding member of “Jews of African Descent.”

She has a B.A. in English from Eastern Baptist College in Pennsylvania (now Eastern University). She earned an M.A. in English from Villanova University in 1973, and an MFA in creative writing and a Ph.D. in comparative literature and literary theory from the University of Pennsylvania.

Herron spent a postdoctoral research year at Brandeis University investigating the subject of African American Jews.

Her debut novel, Thereafter Johnnie, a semi-autobiographical portrayal of African-American life, was critically well-received.

Her critically-acclaimed picture book Nappy Hair, a call and response story based on her own experiences as a child, was the cause of massive controversy when a New York City public school teacher was accused of racism after using it in the classroom.

Herron edited the papers of Angelina Weld Grimke for Oxford University Press.

Many of her writings, including her multimedia novel in progress, “Asenath and Our Song of Songs,” refer to the intersections between Judaic and African cultures.

Her latest children’s book, Always an Olivia, recounts the coming of Herron’s Jewish ancestors from Tripoli, Libya, to the Georgia Sea Islands in the Americas.

Herron has taught literature at many institutions, including Harvard University, Mount Holyoke College, Brandeis University, and Marien N’Guabi University in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

Her scholarship includes work on African-American Judaica, children’s literature, multicultural literature, and Star Trek.

This is Black Jewish History Month at MaNishtana’s Musings.

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