James McBride is best known for his memoir, The Color of Water, about being the son of an African American father and a white mother. His new novel, Deacon King Kong, takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project, similar to the one he grew up in., and involves the wide consequences of a shooting.
Marian Wright Edelman is the founder of the Children's Defense Fund, a Washington advocacy group that works to prevent teen pregnancy, and provide for children's health, education and employment. The Los Angeles Times has called her "the most powerful advocate in America for children." She was the first black woman admitted to the bar in Mississippi.