Black Cotton Reviews: Who we are

Christina Vortia is the Rare Books Librarian at Howard University‘s premier Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, the world’s leading repository on the global Black experience. Christina is an educator, librarian, blogger, and book reviewer with a commitment to young people, service, literature, and the culture. She has served on the 2020/2021 LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature2019/2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, 2017 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, and the 2017 Florida Author’s and Publisher’s Association Book Awards Committee. She is the current Chair of the 2023 Newbery Committee. Christina is a book reviewer of children’s and young adult literature at Kirkus and School Library Journal. She also blogs at She has been a contributor to the popular literary website Book Riot.

Christina has worked in public, academic and federal libraries using statistical analysis to gauge community needs to plan programs, facilitate community partnerships, write and contribute to winning grants. 

Christina received her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Montclair State University.

Maegen J. Rose is the Director of Library Program and Upper School Librarian at Brooklyn Friends School in New York. She received a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College, a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago, and a master’s degree in library science from Dominican University.

Maegen is an active member of local and national library organizations including the American Library Association (ALA), Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC), American Association of School Librarians (AASL), Hudson Valley Library Association (HVLA), Association of Independent School Librarians (AISL), and The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY). She has reviewed books for School Library Journal and served on the 2019-2021 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury. Maegen is a member of Library Journal’s 2021 class of Movers & Shakers and chaired the 2023 Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee.

Dr. Kimberly N. Parker is an award-winning educator based in Boston with a steadfast belief in the power of literacy to normalize the high achievement of all students, especially Black, Latinx, and other children of color. She is currently the Director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, and published Literacy is Liberation: Working Toward Justice Through Culturally Relevant Teaching (Association for Curriculum and Supervision Development, 2022).The book documents her successful literacy work based on her classroom and professional development experiences.

Kim is the 2020 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Outstanding Elementary Educator Award; a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysIBPOC; and a former president of the Black Educators’ Alliance of MA (BEAM).

Karen Lemmons is currently a high school librarian/teacher at the Detroit School of Arts. She is Chair of BCALA Services to Children and Families of African Descent. She is a member of ALSC, AASL, and YALSA. She served as Treasurer of the Coretta Scott King Book Award Committee. She has served on several book award committees including Newbery, CSK Book Award, Caldecott, Carnegie Medal, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, Printz, the Walter Awards, and the Black Caucus Literary Awards. She is very passionate about, and advocates for multicultural literature. In addition to reading great books, Karen knits, quilts, sews, and roller skates.

LaKeshia Darden, Ed.D [she/her] is the Associate Librarian for Reference and Instruction at Warren Library, Palm Beach Atlantic University located in West Palm Beach Florida. LaKeshia taught high school English for eight years and her experiences confirmed for her the importance of the inclusion of diverse literature in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. In Fall 2020, LaKeshia completed her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Fayetteville State University. Her dissertation, Diversity Training Through Story: University Professionals Explore Narratives of the Black Experience by Reading Coretta Scott King Book Awards Titles, explored the effectiveness of narrative theory coupled with using award-winning Black children’s literature as a diversity training tool with white university professionals. Darden is a member of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Round Table (CSKBART) and served on the CSK Jury from 2017-2021. 2019-2021, and 2023-2024 she served as the Chair of the CSK jury. LaKeshia currently serves on the American Library Association’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Assembly. She has designed, led, and facilitated DEI trainings for colleges and universities, public libraries, and special interest groups. LaKeshia is the wife of Lt. Col. Kurtis Darden (USAF) and together they have six children.

Edith Campbell [she/her/Ms.] is an associate librarian in the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University. As part of the Reference and Instruction team, she serves as the liaison to the Bayh College of Education. She also teaches a one semester graduate level course, Representation in YA Literature. In 2016, she served as a Faculty Fellow to the ISU Faculty Center for Teaching Excellence’s Multicultural Curriculum Learning Community. Edith has served on the WNDB’s Walter Award, YALSA’s Printz, ALAN/NCTE Walden Award Committee and ALSC’s Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal committees. Her research interests include the representation of Black children in youth literature and implementation of critical literacy practices in libraries. Edith is a founding member of See What We See and the We Are Kidlit Collective. She blogs to promote media literacy and social justice in young adult literature at CottonQuiltsEdi. Edith received her BA in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and MLS from Indiana University. Edith Campbell is a mother, and grandmother who enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking and traveling.

Pauletta Brown Bracy is a professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University where she also serves as Director of the Office of University Accreditation. She began her library career in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Public Schools as a middle school librarian. Her areas of teaching and research are school library media librarianship and children’s and young adult literature and services with foci on ethnic perspectives in literature and meeting the needs of African American children and adolescents in school and public libraries. She is former chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee and a recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her most recent book is Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth (Libraries Unlimited, 2017) which she co-edited with Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Casey H. Rawson.  She holds a B.A. in English from Fisk University, the Master of Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and the Ph.D. in library science from The University of Michigan.