Daniel Black, Ph.D.

Author, Professor, Consultant, Mentor

Dr. Daniel Black is an award-winning novelist, professor, activist, mentor and public speaker. His published works include They Tell Me of Home, The Sacred Place, Perfect Peace, Twelve Gates to the City, The Coming, Listen to the Lambs, Don’t Cry for Me, and Black on Black. In 2014, he won the Distinguished Writer’s Award from the Mid-Atlantic Writer’s Association. The Go On Girl! National Book Club named him “Author of the Year” in 2011 for his best-selling novel Perfect Peace. Perfect Peace was also chosen as the 2014 selection for “If All Arkansas Read the Same Book” by the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library. The novel has been reprinted more than ten times and is being heralded as an American literary classic. Dr. Black has been nominated (three times) for the Townsend Literary Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award, the Ferro-Grumbley Literary Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, he Georgia Author of the Year Prize, and the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award.

In 2015, Dr. Black’s The Coming was published to broad critical acclaim. The novel is a first-hand account of the trauma and triumph of Africans aboard a slave ship in the 16th century. Reviewers call this work “brilliant”, “poetic”, and “a literary homage to the lives of those Africans tossed into the sea.” National Book Award winnerCharles Johnson says, “The Coming is powerful and brilliant.” He goes on to state, “This is a work to be proud of!” In 2016, Dr. Black’s long-awaited novel Listen to the Lambs was released. This novel explores the lives and agency of unhoused people who find each other on the street and create lives of meaning without material substance.

Dr. Black’s work has been justly celebrated. Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker says this about Perfect Peace: “It is a spellbinding novel that kept me reading late into several nights. A young boy raised as a girl until ‘she’ was eight years old…. and then? Forced to be a ‘boy.’ It is a gift to have so much passion, so much love, so much beautiful writing so flawlessly faithful to the language of ancestors who grappled as best they could with more than they could ever understand. This novel will one day be a film of much benefit to us, if done well. The visuals of it will help us see what we are so often blind to: the great fluidity inherent in all things, including ‘race’ and sexuality. Thank you, Daniel Black.”

Dr. Black’s newest novel, Don’t Cry For Me, was released by HarperCollins on February 1st, 2022. About this novel, National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward says, “Don’t Cry for Me is a perfect song: the epistolary dirge of a man singing to his son as he faces death by cancer. At turns intense and funny, tender and brutally honest, Jacob’s letter to his son, Isaac, is revelatory. It’s a beautiful book. Read it.” Black’s newest work is his first essay collection titled BLACK ON BLACK, which was released on January 30th, 2023. In response to this work, renowned Baldwin scholar Dr. Eddie Glaude says, “Black on Black is a tour de force. Brilliant. Passionate. Deeply caring. One reads these essays and feels immediately enveloped in Daniel Black’s love—even when he challenges you or when you might disagree. I really needed to read this book in these trying times.”
Dr. Black also works as a diversity consultant, having spoken at top-tier companies in America such as Google, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, AT&T, and Global Payments. He assists corporations with creating work environments in which all employees, of every level and difference, feel supported and valued.

A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Black spent his formative years in rural Blackwell, Arkansas. He graduated from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) where he earned the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship and studied abroad at Oxford University. He was then awarded a full fellowship to Temple University where he studied with Black Arts Movement poet laureate Sonia Sanchez and, in 1992, earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies. Dr. Black has spent the majority of his 30 academic years as a professor of African American Studies at his beloved alma mater, Clark Atlanta University.

Dr. Black lives in Atlanta and is the founder of the Ndugu-Nzinga Rites of Passage Nation, a mentoring society for people of African descent who seek to love themselves and build a world of character for their people.

Currently, Dr. Black has completed the literary sequel to Don’t Cry for Me, tentatively titled Isaac’s Song. He is also working on part II of The Coming and a black scripture titled The Good Book.

Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America

A piercing collection of essays on racial tension in America and the ongoing fight for visibility, change, and lasting hope

“There are stories that must be told.”

Acclaimed novelist and scholar Daniel Black has spent a career writing into the unspoken, fleshing out, through storytelling, pain that can’t be described.

Now, in his debut essay collection, Black gives voice to the experiences of those who often find themselves on the margins. Tackling topics ranging from police brutality to the AIDS crisis to the role of HBCUs to queer representation in the black church, Black on Black celebrates the resilience, fortitude, and survival of black people in a land where their body is always on display.

As Daniel Black reminds us, while hope may be slow in coming, it always arrives, and when it does, it delivers beyond the imagination. Propulsive, intimate, and achingly relevant, Black on Black is cultural criticism at its openhearted best.

Don’t Cry for Me

As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay.

But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.

With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don’t Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love’s hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.

Perfect Peace

As seen on TikTok, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace is the heartbreaking portrait of a large, rural southern family’s attempt to grapple with their mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son into the daughter she will never have—“a complex, imaginative story of one unforgettable black family in mid-twentieth century Arkansas” (Atlanta Magazine).

When the seventh child of the Peace family, named Perfect, turns eight, her mother Emma Jean tells her bewildered daughter, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was supposed to be. So, from now on, you gon’ be a boy. It’ll be a little strange at first, but you’ll get used to it, and this’ll be over after while.”

From this point forward, Perfect’s life becomes a bizarre kaleidoscope of events—while the rest of his family is forced to question everything they thought they knew about gender, sexuality, unconditional love, and fulfillment.

The Coming

“The Coming is powerful. And beautiful…This is a work to be proud of.”–Charles Johnson, National Book Award winner for Middle Passage

Lyrical, poetic, and hypnotizing, The Coming tells the story of a people’s capture and sojourn from their homeland across the Middle Passage–a traumatic trip that exposed the strength and resolve of the African spirit. Extreme conditions produce extraordinary insight, and only after being stripped of everything do they discover the unspeakable beauty they once took for granted. This powerful, haunting novel will shake readers to their very souls.

“Part homage to the proud and diverse cultures of Africa, part nightmare of the people stolen from those lands, The Coming seduces us with poetry, then breaks our hearts, but ultimately inspires us to celebrate the indomitable soul of humanity.” —George Weinstein, author of Hardscrabble Road