because books inspire

Founded in 2018, INKPEN is a collaboration between readers and writers to put books in the hands of teens in under-resourced school libraries and to ensure that readers of color have access to stories by writers of color. We do this because we believe books inspire. 

For many of us, reading has been a life-long love. We sought books of every genre for the worlds they brought to us. We sought books that shared the journeys of people who looked like us. We reflected on the joys of being seen and heard when we read authors such as Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes. Through INKPEN programming and partnerships, we aim to bring books to today's youth to help them through their questioning of the world.   



Darlene Taylor

Inspiration: A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry

Founder and Executive Director

Ahmad Wright


Inspiration: A Gathering of Old Men

Ernest J. Gaines

Christina Mason


Inspiration: The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Flo McAfee


Inspiration: Kindred

Octavia Butler

"My love of books and reading started young because it enabled me to leave the isolated west Texas environment of my childhood. I could do more, be more."

                                                                                                                    - Jaqee Cooke

Jaqee Cooke


Inspiration: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/

When the Rainbow Is Enuf

Ntozake Shange

Jewel James Simmons


Inspiration: Autobiography of 

Malcom X

Alex Haley

Malaika Adero


Inspiration: Corregidora

Gayl Jones

"I've loved to read and hear stories for as long as I can remember, to learn about different experiences and places. I became obsessed with books by and about Black people, the experience was more meaningful. Every reader wants to experience the unfamiliar by a book. We also want enough of the familiar to connect and learn more about ourselves."

                                                     - Malaika Adero

Sabiyha Prince


Inspiration: Ain't I A Woman

bell hooks

Sabrina Curtis


Inspiration: The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques

W.E.B. DuBois

Sara Horton


Inspiration: Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People

Nikki Giovanni

"Reading creates opportunities for black women and girls to expand their worlds - fostering the embrace and internalization of old and new forms of self-affirmation and intellectual growth."

                                                            - Sabiyha Prince

Simba Sana



 James Baldwin: 

The Price of the Ticket    





we VALUE...

  • Building strong bridges across cultures.
  • Opening doors for real diversity and inclusion in the literary and cultural arts.
  • Reading as a way of nurturing a literate society. 
  • Writing and storytelling that furthers empathy and understanding.
  • Connecting in libraries to engage with authors and other readers over books.