Effie Lee Morris Lecture Series

Join the San Francisco Public Library Main Children’s Center and the SFPL Racial Equity Committee as we present the 27th Annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture.

Jewell Parker Rhodes Speaks June 7: "Words as Witness, Words as Healing"

Join award-winning writer Jewell Parker Rhodes on Wednesday, June 7, at 5 p.m. for the 27th annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture.

This is a hybrid event; attendees may opt to attend in-person or online on Zoom.

This year, the Effie Lee Morris Lecture returns as an in-person event to the Koret Auditorium for the first time since 2019. Masking is strongly recommended. This event is for all ages.


Dr. Rhodes's topic is "Words as Witness, Words as Healing." Her books for youth include Ghost Boys, where the long shadows of violence against Black kids and teens reach from the past into the present. Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Bayou Magic is about a young girl who learns to carry forward her family’s magical legacy. Paradise on Fire tells the story of a group of Black city kids who learn wilderness skills and how to survive in a perilous world. And Black Brother, Black Brother is about a Black kid who joins the fencing team, faces off against injustice and a bully, and makes a place for himself in a world that prefers his light-skinned brother. 

Dr. Rhodes is the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Award for Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth Ward; a Walter Dean Myers Award for Ghost Boys; an American Book Award for her adult historical novel Douglass’ Women and numerous other honors. She lives in Seattle and serves as the founding artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Narrative Studies Professor and Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair at Arizona State University. She is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Carnegie-Mellon University. 


For more information, call (415) 557-4554, or email ChildrensCenter@sfpl.org.

27th Annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture with Jewell Parker RhodesJune 7, 5 p.m.

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headshot of author with two dogs

About the Effie Lee Morris Lecture Series:

Since 1997, the annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture has brought distinguished authors and illustrators of books for young people to speak about their lives, works and creative inspirations to San Francisco Public Library audiences.

Since 2021, this lecture series has been produced as a partnership between the SFPL Main Children’s Center and the SFPL Racial Equity Committee. This focus elevates authors and illustrators of color who create works that reflect the experiences, hopes and dreams of communities of color. The strong equity focus of the lecture series reflects the priorities of Effie Lee Morris herself. It also enhances the relationship between the library and the youth of San Francisco through the Effie Lee Morris OWL Book Club, offered in partnering San Francisco public schools.

About Effie Lee Morris – A Woman Ahead of Her Time

The Effie Lee Morris Lecture series at SFPL honors the values embodied by Effie Lee Morris (1921 – 2009), the first SFPL coordinator of children’s services, the first Black president of the Public Library Association, and founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.

Ms. Morris was a tireless champion of diversity, inclusivity, and the rights of all young people to read, learn and create. She initiated the first annual celebration of Black history for youth at the Cleveland Public Library, and at the New York Public Library was the first librarian whose work focused on the needs of children who were blind or visually impaired. At SFPL, she was especially noted for her commitment to personally visit underserved communities to get books into the hands of all our youth.

Effie Lee Morris
Effie Lee Morris

Previous guest speakers and programs

2022 Nicola Yoon (virtual event)

2021 Jason Reynolds (virtual event)

2019   Isabel Campoy
Mi Voz Latina for a Choir of Diversity in Children's Literature

2019   Renée Watson
The Miracle of Joy: How Stories Heal

2018   Shane Evans
The Art of Dream

2017   Gary Soto
Too Much of a Good Thing: The Many Genres of Gary Soto

2016   Christian Robinson
You Are Here: Finding Yourself in Picture Books

2015   Chris Raschka
Remembering Books

2014   Yuyi Morales
Creating Children's Books: An Immigrant's Story

2013    Eve Bunting
Picture Books That Can’t Be Written: Social Issues in Children’s Literature

2012    Jerry Pinkney
A Sense of Place Real and Imagined

2011    Gerald McDermott
Tricksters: Gerald McDermott and the Art of the Folktale

2010    Ashley Wolff
Sunrise/Sunset: Exploring the Many Cycles of Life in Picture Books

2009    Pat Mora
The Zing of Writing

2008    Patricia McKissack
Storytelling, the Heart of Literacy

2007    Javaka Steptoe
On the creation of Swan Lake, the classic story retold by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

2006    Tomie dePaola
What Haven’t I Done Yet

2005    Pamela Munoz Ryan
Dreams, Discoveries and Daring Women

2004    Nikki Grimes
Does the World Really Need Another Book

2003    Daniel and Robert D. San Souci
Creative Collaboration with the Picture Book : An Inside View

2002    Milly Lee
Hay Choy: A Feast for Readers

2001    Thacher Hurd
Art Dogs and Alligators: Bringing Books to Life

2000    Alma Flor Ada
One Life, Many Voices: An Author’s Journey

1999    Ashley Bryan
Deep Like the Rivers : African Tales, Black American Poetry and Spirituals

1998    Laurence Yep
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Godzilla: Talking About Children’s Literature

1997    A Celebration of Children’s Literature- Featuring treasures from the Effie Lee Morris Historical and Research Collection of Children’s Literature