John Lewis Writing Grants

John Lewis and His Legacy

Georgia Writers Association's John Lewis Writing Grants are inspired by the late civil rights icon and his more than three decades of service as Georgia’s 5th District representative. The John Lewis Writing Grants will be awarded annually in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The purpose of the grants is to elevate, encourage, and inspire the voices of Black writers in Georgia.

Lewis' work includes Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (1998), the March series, and Run: Book One. Lewis received the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Memoir in 2017 for March: Book Three.

(Photo: Library of Congress)

Complete Guidelines

Applicants must be 18 years of age and emerging writers who are Black or African-American residents of Georgia for at least one year, or full-time students at a Georgia college or university at the time of application and on the date of the award, and have published no more than one traditionally published book. Writers who are eligible may apply annually but may only win a grant once. There is no submission fee to enter. Applicants are ineligible if they are of relations to any of the Georgia Writers Association staff or board of directors. 

Writers may apply in only one genre and must submit the following:

  • A completed grant application
  • An essay of at least 500 words as a concise description of your work and goals as a writer. Please tell us what inspires or challenges your writing career.
  • No more than a ten-page writing sample of unpublished work (prior to submission) in the genre in which you are applying–fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
    If submitting poetry, one poem per page please.

Submissions for the 2022 John Lewis Writing Grants will be accepted in Summer 2022. 

The Grants

Submissions will be reviewed anonymously; the winner in each genre will receive:

  • A grant of $500
  • A scholarship to the next annual Red Clay Writers Conference
  • Invitation to present a writing project in a future GWA virtual program

2021 Recipients

Ra’Niqua Lee


Ra’Niqua Lee writes to share her particular visions of love and the South. She completed her MFA at Georgia State University in 2018, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in African American literature at Emory, where she works as an editorial associate for the online, peer-reviewed research journal Southern Spaces. She has received support from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, Tin House Summer Workshop, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. Her work can be found at Split Lip MagazineFractured LiterarySmokelong Quarterly, the Bitchn’ Kitsch, and elsewhere. Every word is in honor of her little sister Nesha. For her always.

George Chidi


George Chidi is a freelance writer in Atlanta. A former staff writer for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, George writes for The Intercept and is a columnist for Decaturish. He has been published in The Guardian, VICE News and elsewhere. He is the host of “The Next Atlanta” on Fox 5. George served on the city council of Pine Lake and as social impact director for Central Atlanta Progress, and has been widely engaged in civic issues regarding homelessness, mental health and poverty in metro Atlanta. He served on the design team of Atlanta’s pre-arrest diversion initiative and as a committee chairman for the Fulton County Superior Court’s task force on mental health.

Jae Nichelle


Jae Nichelle is a storyteller on the page and the stage. She is the author of the poetry chapbook The Porch (As Sanctuary), and her work has appeared in ANMLY, Best New Poets, Muzzle Magazine, the Washington Square Review, The Offing Magazine, and elsewhere. Her spoken word has been featured by Write About Now Poetry, Button Poetry, and the Speak Up Poetry Series. Find out more on her website,