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Carolivia Herron

Carolivia Herron draws on her experience as an African American Jewish woman living in Washington, D.C. to reimagine the traditional form of “the epic” through her writing.As a child of a Baptist mother and a Methodist father, Carolivia Herron’s interest in Judaism and in epic narratives was sparked by reading biblical stories. Herron studied English literature at Eastern Baptist College and Villanova University before completing a doctorate in comparative literature and literary theory at the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. In addition to teaching at universities across the country and publishing for academic audiences, Herron has published children’s books and novels. Herron’s book Nappy Hair (1997) was at the center of controversy in New York City for its description of the young protagonist’s hair that some parents and teachers found objectionable. At age 47, Herron underwent a Conservative conversion to Judaism. Her contribution to representations of Jews of color in children’s literature was recognized with Be’chol Lashon’s Media Award for Always an Olivia: A Remarkable Family History (2007) in which she traces her own lineage to Sephardic Jews who found refuge on the Georgia coast in a community of descendants of enslaved Africans. In 2010, Herron received the Exceptional Women in the Arts Award for Operatic Arts for her work on an operetta about Marian Anderson, the opera singer who broke racial barriers in the twentieth century. Herron’s most recent book, Peacesong DC (2016), is a fictionalized autobiography. Working to promote storytelling through education and mentorship, Herron founded EpicCenter Stories and directed Potomac Anacostia Ultimate Story Exchange, which brings together youth and mentors to develop writing skills. Herron also promotes and publishes the writings of other African Jews through Street to Street Epic Publications.


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Carolivia Herron. Photo courtesy of Repair the World.

Date of Birth

Washington, DC
United States

Professor, Writer, Publisher

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Carolivia Herron." (Viewed on May 30, 2020) <>.


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