Caroline Randall Williams
Award-Winning Poet, Scholar,Activist
Caroline Randall Williams is a catalyst. She makes change possible by bringing art and joy into the room in such a way that the grit of real challenge and limits may become eclipsed by analysis, innovation, and skill. She is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual,…
Born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, Harvard graduate Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual, performance artist, and scholar. She joins the faculty of Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2019 as a Writer-in-Residence in Medicine, Health, and Society while she continues to work and speak to the places where art, business, and scholarship intersect, moving people closer to their best lives and corporations closer to their ideal identities.
She has spoken in twenty states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, in venues that range from as small as a classroom in a neighborhood school to as large as the Superdome mainstage during Essence Fest. To every speaking engagement Caroline brings a fierce intelligence, disarming charm, a touch of glamour, and a depth of lived experience that belies her thirty-one years. She has taught in two of the poorest states in the union — Mississippi and West Virginia — and she has been educated at two of the richest universities on the globe — Harvard and Oxford. She is an accomplished artist on the page and on the stage, and she is a successful entrepreneur with an exceptionally diverse investment portfolio that includes ownership stake in a nationally acclaimed restaurant and Facebook stock purchased so early it is still profitable.
You may have seen her on Morning Joe, or Dr. Oz, or The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. More likely you’ve read her. Caroline’s first book, The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess (co-authored with Alice Randall) won the Harlem Book Fair’s Phillis Wheatley Prize and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. Her second co-authored volume, Soul Food Love won the NAACP Image Award and got her invited to speak at The Smithsonian. In 2017 the New York Times published an op-ed she wrote and it went viral. Her book of poetry, Lucy Negro Redux, earned rave reviews and got optioned to become a ballet. In 2019 the ballet debuted to more rave reviews with the New York Times review concluding that Lucy Negro Redux was “something wildly original, something so unlike anything else that all description falls short of its otherworldly reality. A place where, when the curtain drops, the very city cries out: “Brava! Brava! Oh, brava!” Another reviewer wrote, “All this is to say that Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux is not just original, but revolutionary — marking a seismic shift in the art form not just in Nashville, but in dance the world-over.” No wonder she was chosen in 2015 by Southern Living as one of “50 People Changing the South” for her work around food justice, and in 2016 as a national Neiman Marcus “Face of Beauty” because she personifies “beauty, brains, and passion.”
After graduating from Harvard University, where her undergraduate thesis received Magna Cum Laude honors, Caroline moved to Mississippi where she taught public school on a dirt road in Sunflower County for two years. In Mississippi, Caroline lived in an America many Americans are hardly aware of any longer, an America as rich in culture as it is wretched in poverty, towns still split into white and black by train tracks and bridges. During her second year, she taught 9th grade English to 86 kids who didn’t have a book to take home. She got that job by tutoring eight kids who the state of Mississippi said couldn’t pass the English exit exam—eight for eight, her kids passed.
Caroline is a catalyst. She makes change possible by bringing art and joy into the room in such a way that the grit of real challenge and limits may become eclipsed by analysis, innovation, and skill.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
Genetic Inheritance and Cultural Identity
Children in the Mississippi Delta Know That You Don’t Know
Inspirational and Arts Institutional
Museums, Libraries, Black History Month, Women’s History Month
NYT Op-Ed: ‘You Want A Confederate Monument? My Body Is A Confederate Monument’ | MSNBC
IN 9+ My DNA - Caroline Randall Williams
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