Literary Writing Contests for Black People

So in the essence of all things black, we need literary outlets who appreciate our literary voices. So I am compiling a list of literary contests and awards for black authors to submit. These are sources that are solely geared to black voices in literature. Some of them have entry fees and some of them do not. Some have upcoming deadlines and some do not. I will be regularly updating this list. Don't forget to subscribe.

2020 African American Voices in Children’s Literature: Writing Contest

Sponsored by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing

Deadline extended! Open for submissions through August 31, 2020.

The contest is open to authors of African American heritage who are residents of Minnesota and at the time of entry are at least 18 years of age and residing in Minnesota.

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is now in its 14th year and has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing visibility of emerging African-American fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature. The annual award of a $15,000 cash prize is to support the writer and help enable her/him to focus on her/his art of writing.

DEADLINE: Entries must be RECEIVED at the Foundation offices by August 31, 2020.

SCBWI On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award

The SCBWI established the On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award in 2012 with funding from Martin and Sue Schmitt of the 455 Foundation. The grant was created to foster the emergence of diverse voices in children’s books. SCBWI reserves the right not to confer this award in any given year.

Any writer or writer/illustrator from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America. (Including but not limited to: American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander)

The manuscript must be an original work written in English for young readers and may not be under contract.  The applicant must be over 18, be unpublished (self-published is not considered published for this award), and should not yet have representation.


Applications accepted between September 15 and November 15, 2020 only.

Lee and Low Books New Visions Award

TU BOOKS, the middle grade and young adult imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, is pleased to announce the eighth annual New Visions Award. The award will be given for a middle grade or young adult novel by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer.The Award winner receives a cash prize of $2,000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first-time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

All submissions must be submitted betweenMay 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020

Lee and Low Books New Voices Awards

The New Voices Award is given annually by children's book publisher Lee & Low Books for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer.

  1. Manuscripts should address the needs of children of color and Native nations by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and which promote a greater understanding of one another. Themes relating to non-traditional family structures, gender identity, or disabilities may also be included.  

  2. Submissions may be FICTION, NONFICTION, or POETRY for children ages 5 to 12. Only stories with human protagonists will be considered.

The Award winner receives a cash prize of $2,000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first-time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

All submissions must be submitted between May 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020 11:59 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).

BCALA Literary Awards Criteria

BCALA presents four (4) $500.00 awards: one for adult fiction, one for nonfiction, one for a first novelist, and one for poetry. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical, and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora.

The Fiction Award recognizes depictions of sensitive and authentic personal experience either within the framework of contemporary literary standards and themes or which explore innovative literary formats.

The Nonfiction Award honors cultural, historical, political, or social criticism or academic and/or professional research which significantly advances the body of knowledge currently associated with the people and the legacy of the Black Diaspora. (Categories could include the humanities, science and technology, social and behavioral sciences and reference).

The First Novelist Award acknowledges outstanding achievement in writing and storytelling by a first time fiction writer.

The Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation recognizes the author and/or the publishing company (for their support and publication of) special and unique books that recognize the outstanding achievements and positive depiction of contributions of the people and legacy of the Black Diaspora.

The Poetry Award strives to recognize and promote emerging and established poets that introduce and foster the joys of poetry writing.

Additionally, honor books may be selected in each category.

Purpose: To encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and scholarly research including biographical, historical and social history treatments by African Americans.


  1. Must portray some aspect of the African American experience past, present or future.

  2. All authors, editors and contributors must be African American(s) born in the United States.

  3. Must be published in the United States in the year preceding presentation of the award.

  4. Must be an original work.

The final submission date to each juror is December 31, 2020.

The Hurston/Wright Crossover Award

The Hurston/Wright Crossover Award, sponsored by ESPN’s The Undefeated, honors probing, provocative, and original new voices in literary nonfiction. Named after the most common dribbling move in basketball, the Crossover Award, aims to highlight an unconventional winner who writes across genres and can effectively crossover between writing styles and techniques. The name also speaks to the potential of the award winner to transition from obscurity to the spotlight.

This award will celebrate one writer who contributes a unique perspective to the literary nonfiction landscape and whose writing exemplifies The Undefeated’s “Not Conventional, Never Boring” mantra.

The award submission period opens December 1, 2019 and closes February 29, 2020.  The winner of the award, which includes a cash prize, will be announced in May 2020 and honored at the 19th Annual Legacy Awards Ceremony in October 2020.


  • Unpublished, Black writers who are 18 years and older

  • Writers who have published books, including poetry books or fiction narratives, through any publishing platform, are not eligible.


  • $2000 to one recipient

  • Tuition-free attendance at a Hurston/Wright summer writer’s workshop

  • Complimentary ticket to the 19th Annual Legacy Awards Ceremony in October 2020

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Launched in 1999 with Rita Dove’s selection of Natasha Trethewey’s Domestic Work, this first-book award is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by black poets of African descent.

Award: Winner receives $1,000, publication by University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2021, 15 copies of the book and a feature reading.

Deadline: Manuscripts must be submitted via Submittable no later than Monday, March 9, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner announced via email by or before October 2020.

Entry Fee: $20. Entry fees are non-refundable.

The Highlights Foundation Diversity Fellowship in Children’s Literature

The Highlights Foundation Diversity Fellowship in Children’s Literature is a 24-month professional development and mentorship program for People of Color and Indigenous authors or illustrators who are actively pursuing publication within the children’s publishing industry.

Each Fellow will receive: • A robust curriculum specically intended for professional development, leading Fellows closer to publishing their work. • A Mentor specically selected and dedicated to one full year of one-to-one professional coaching to build the Fellow’s knowledge, skills, and aptitude in preparing their manuscript and/or art samples for submission. • Full travel and tuition costs to attend the workshops at the Highlights Foundation that make up this Fellowship. • Opportunities to meet as a cohort for peer review, creative exchange, and community-building. • Opportunities to meet industry professionals: published authors and illustrators, editors, art directors, and agents.

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime fiction Writers of Color Award

This is an annual grant of $2,000 for an emerging writer of color. his grant is intended to support the recipient in crime fiction writing and career development activities. The grantee may choose to use the grant for activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats, online courses, and research activities required for completion of the work.

An unpublished writer is preferred, however publication of several pieces of short fiction and/or up to two self-published or traditionally published books will not disqualify an applicant.

An unpublished work of crime fiction. This may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 5,000 words.

The submissions period is March 16, 2020 to June 8, 2020 - DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 22, 2020!

Finally here is a great master site that regularly updates various resources for writers of all kinds. Let's go snatch up some prizes

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