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Bigger Than Bravery

Bigger Than Bravery

Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic

Valerie Boyd
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An anthology of Black resilience and reclamation, with contributions by Pearl Cleage, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tayari Jones, Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Deesha Philyaw, Khadijah Queen, Jason Reynolds, Alice Walker, and more

Born of a desire to bring together the voices of those most harshly affected by the intersecting pandemics of Covid-19 and systemic racism, Bigger Than Bravery explores comfort and compromise, challenge and resilience, throughout the Great Pause that became the Great Call. Award-winning author and scholar of the Black archive Valerie Boyd curates this anthology of original essays and poems, alongside some of the most influential nonfiction published on the subject, inviting readers into a conversation of restorative joy and enduring wisdom. 

Bigger Than Bravery captures what Boyd calls the “first draft of history,” with poems serving as deep breaths between narrative essays to form a loose chronology of this unprecedented time. Karen Good Marable cranks “Whip My Hair” from the car windows during quarantine joyrides with her daughter. Deesha Philyaw ponders loneliness as she sorts Zoom meetings into those that require a bra and those that don’t. Writing in the moment though not of it, Pearl Cleage reflects on what has and hasn’t changed since the AIDS epidemic. Jason Reynolds harnesses heat and flavor to carry on his father’s legacy.

Sorrow and outrage have their say, but the stories in these pages are bright with family, music, food, and home, teaching us how to nourish ourselves and our communities. Looking ahead as much as it looks back, Bigger Than Bravery offers a window into a hopeful, complex present, establishing an essential record of how Black people in America insist on joy as an act of resistance.


Valerie Boyd’s Bigger Than Bravery isn’t just an anthology; it is a survival guide.” — Courtney B. Vance, Tony- and Emmy-winning actor


Valerie Boyd was the author of the critically acclaimed Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston and the editor of Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker. She was the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Georgia, where she founded and directed the Low-Residency MFA in Narrative Nonfiction. Formerly arts editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and senior consulting editor at the Bitter Southerner, Boyd also wrote for the Los Angeles TimesWashington PostBon AppetitEssence, and the Oxford American, among other places.

Alice Walker is the acclaimed author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, she became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Among her other books are The Temple of My FamiliarMeridianPossessing the Secret of Joy, and Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, edited by Valerie Boyd. 

Kiese Laymon is a Black Southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of the novel Long Division, the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the New York Times best-selling Heavy: An American Memoir.

Deesha Philyaw’s debut story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020 / 2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. It was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author of many books, including Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi; Long Way DownLook Both Ways; and the Track series.


  • Publisher: Lookout Books (September 20, 2022)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1940596475
  • ISBN-13: 9781940596471
  • Item Weight: 1.11 pounds
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