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Obsidian wins NEA grant

thick journal with cover of marble bust of a man on front, and carved statue of legs on the back

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora is the recipient of a $50,000 NEA CARES grant. The journal is currently published by Illinois State’s Publications Unit. Established in 1975, Obsidian is an influential anchor of arts and scholarship for African diaspora literature and has a diverse readership of 20,000 from across the United States and around the world.

Dr. Duriel E. Harris, professor of English at Illinois State and editor-in-chief of Obsidian, is the principal investigator of the grant. “We are very proud of the outstanding work that Professor Harris is doing,” said Dr. Diane Zoksy, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of social work. “Obsidian is dedicated to the work of peoples and ideas that have migrated across the globe from Africa and meets an important need in our society.”

The two-year NEA grant will partially fund the part-time position of a managing editor (ME) for Obsidian. The ME will serve as the primary administrator for the journal’s day-to-day operations. The College of Arts and Sciences is delighted to support the success of the grant by partnering with the NEA. “The College of Arts and Sciences is thrilled about this opportunity for Harris to take Obsidian to even greater levels of distinction and proudly offers its resources for such a deserving endeavor,” said Dr. Joseph Blaney, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of communication.

The ME will also be responsible for implementing Obsidian’s comprehensive marketing strategy, coordinating all outreach strategies, and managing all editorial activities, including print production and website management. “With the support of the NEA, Obsidian will continue investing in the literary ecosystem of Black voices, serving as a crucial resource for scholarship and publishing in the arts and African diaspora for years to come,” wrote Harris in her grant application.

Created by Congress is 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit www.arts.gov to learn more.