Kweli’s mission is to nurture emerging writers of color and create opportunities for their voices to be recognized and valued. By creating a community and programming based on artistic excellence and rigor, Kweli empowers writers to share stories that engage and impact our communities. Our vision is for a world where the narratives being told reflect the truth of our histories and the possibilities for our future.
As an online magazine, we celebrate cultural kinships and the role of the literary imagination in writing. Our contributors come from many countries and include acclaimed writers like Jeffery Renard Allen, A. Igoni Barrett, Jennine Capó Crucet, Angie Cruz, Nana-Ama Danquah, Camille Dungy, Martin Espada, Santee Frazier, Ru Freeman, Cristina Garcia, Nathalie Handal, Charles Johnson, Lorna Goodison, Victor LaValle, Ed Pavlic, Quincy Troupe, Chika Unigwe, Neela Vaswani, Xu Xi, Tiphanie Yanique and others. In 2014, Kweli invited three esteemed guest editors to solicit and screen work for publication: Jeffery Renard Allen, Jennine Capó Crucet and Danielle Evans.
Kweli Journal is a small community. We launched as a biannual journal in December 2009. Since our humble beginnings, Kweli has grown into a multifaceted community organization that offers numerous writing opportunities, including The Color of Children's Literature Conference, the Kweli International Literary Festival, Professional Development Workshops, and our Kweli Scholars program.
It has been particularly gratifying to see so many of the students who have passed through Kweli’s professional development programming go on to volunteer to work on the journal as readers, editors and bloggers. This is how we can continue to grow and build community.
Princess Perry is one of our volunteers. She was published in the inaugural issue of the journal and joined Kweli's editorial circle in 2013. She had this to say about the importance of Kweli to the literary landscape.
"Five years ago, I answered an extended call for short stories from a journal whose name I could not correctly pronounce. Since then, I have learned to speak and love the name Kweli. In its 2009 inaugural issue, Kweli published my short story, "A Hard Bed," which the editors of the journal also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Within the next year or so, Kweli invited me (along with other writers that the journal nurtures) to read at the New York Times building as an opener for Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward P. Jones. I was given the additional honor of introducing Mr. Jones. That night, he autographed a copy of my book, "The Known World," with the words, "one word at a time," not only encouragement but sound advice from an author who shares my world view and believed that my voice has a place in literature. In the fall of this year, my story "A Penny, A Pound" will be published in the anthology All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (University of Wisconsin Press). None of this would have happened without the constant encouragement and support of Kweli. My forthcoming and recently published words were rejected by numerous mainstream journals before finding a home with Kweli and All About Skin. Even when my stories gained some notice from mainstream journals by garnering finalist and honorable mention status, they were still passed over for stories with subject matter far afield from the exploration of what it has meant to be black, a woman, a mulatto, an artist and a farmer in Virginia and North Carolina.
Kweli provides a platform for the voices of writers of color, like me, who, despite our unceasing efforts to be heard, do not easily find a willing and welcoming place for our work in the wider publishing world. With your help, Kweli will continue to do this extraordinary work, and I will gratefully continue to follow the advice of Mr. Edward P. Jones, knowing there is a place in the world for each word I write. That place is Kweli."
February 8, 2014