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Winner Announced for Inaugural Youth Book Prize for Social Justice

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In a year of virtual meetings, birthdays, and events, the annual Goddard Gala was no exception. On October 29, an elegant evening filled with music, books, and engaging guests was masterfully emceed by G. Angela Henry. After a chorus performance and discussions on community and social justice, the gala closed the evening’s festivities with the announcement of the book awards, a perfect, purple bow to an already inspiring night.

The panel of judges for the 2020 Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice, which included Carl Lennertz, Beth Puffer, and Nick Rodriguez, announced the winner during the event.

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in A Better World, by Michael W. Waters; illus. by Keisha Morris (Flyaway Books)

It is a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful book about the shootings that keep coming. Jeremiah has questions, Dad has no answers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t talk about it—or that he won’t act. None of it makes sense, and he’s just a kid. Even if he wants to believe in a better world, is there anything he can do about it. Inspired by real-life events, this honest, intimate look at one family’s response to racism and gun violence is committed to promoting respect, hope, and understanding. 

Waters immediately thanked all those involved, especially “the phenomenal Keisha Morris for her illustrations that provided an opportunity for this narrative to come to life.” He then gave the floor to his very eloquent son, Jeremiah, who inspired the book. Jeremiah gracefully reminded us of the hope and understanding that characterizes For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in A Better World, and how a family can grow closer not despite but because of the good and bad times they face together. He then wished that “when people read this book, I would like it to be a stepping stone for conversations about racism in the future.”

And so do we, Jeremiah. 

In that spirit, a portion of the publisher’s sales proceeds is being donated to nonprofit organizations that facilitate the empowerment of Black communities. And for more great books to help us “grow the next generation of social activist,” as Angela Henry said, check out the shortlist (announced previously), our very own social inclusivity book lists, and don’t forget the guide by the Muhammad Ali Center, included in the book. 

Congratulations again to Walter W. Waters, Keisha Morris, and Flyaway Books!

Watch the 2020 Goddard Gala in full.


Goddard Riverside strives toward a fair and just society where all people can make choices that lead to better lives for themselves and their families. Goddard serves more than 20,000 New Yorkers each year with programs including Early Childhood Education, After School, employment support, college access, youth programs, homeless outreach, Senior Centers and legal assistance.

For more information about Goddard and the Award

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