Carolyn Holbrook is a writer, educator, and an advocate for the healing power of the arts. Her memoir in essays, Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), won the 2021 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. She is founder and director of the Twin Cities-based BIPOC conversation series, More Than a Single Story, and is co-editor with David Mura of the anthology, We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World (University of Minnesota Press & More Than a Single Story 2021), and a chapbook, Earth Angels (Spout Press 2020), and is co-author with Arleta Little of MN civil rights icon, Dr. Josie R. Johnson’s memoir, Hope In the Struggle (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). Her nonfiction book, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Journeys: How the St. Paul Companies Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods Program Changed Lives and Communities was published in 2015.
Her essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota (MNHS 2015) and A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (MNHS 2016). Her TEDx talk, “The Life you Live is the Legacy You will Leave was presented at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN in 2022. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships and awards. She won the Minnesota Book Awards Kay Sexton Award in 2010 and was a 50 over 50 honoree in 2017. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Creative Arts Leadership from Union Institute & University (2002). She teaches at the Loft Literary Center and other community venues, and at Hamline University, where she won the Exemplary Teacher award in 2014. She was Creative Nonfiction mentor in the Loft Mentor Series in 2015-2016.