Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker has won the NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.
The NAACP Image Awards program, now in its 45th year, celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors, a news release from the program said.
Walker, founder of the Affrilachian Poets and an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky, said in a telephone interview he was recognized Friday night in Los Angeles for his most recent book of poetry, “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers.”
“I’m very honored to have my work — which I think of as a product of my artist activism — being honored by an organization like the NAACP given their history of activism in the United States,” Walker said.
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Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Walker’s book, revolving around the civil rights leader Medgar Evers’ 1963 murder in Mississippi, was published last year on the 50th anniversary of the killing, according to a press release from the University of Kentucky. Walker crafted the poems in the voices of individuals central to the event: Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers; his older brother Charlie; the white supremacist assassin who killed him, Byron De La Beckwith; and De La Beckwith’s two wives, the UK release said.
Walker said on Saturday that the book “is a collection of persona poems that try to take a historical subject and bring the reader closer to it in an emotional way.”
The Danville native is the author of six collections of poetry and is an established playwright. A second part of the awards event was set to be broadcast live at 9 p.m. Saturday on the network TV One.