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Nikkya Hargrove: "Mama"

In this searing and ultimately uplifting memoir, Lambda Literary Nonfiction Fellow Nikkya Hargrove describes how she—fresh out of college, Black, and queer—adopted her baby brother after their often incarcerated mother died, and how she determined to create the kind of family she never had. 
Growing up, Nikkya Hargrove’s mother was in and out of prison. Hargrove, one of the 5 million children dealing with the effects of an incarcerated parent, spent a good portion of her childhood in prison visiting rooms but almost never actually living with her mother. In Hargrove’s case, though, life got even more complicated when her mother—addicted to cocaine and just out of prison—had a son. When that child was just months old, Hargrove’s mother died and Hargrove, who had just graduated from college, decided to fight for custody of her half brother.

And fight she does. We see how she is subjected to preconceived notions that she, a Black, queer, young woman, cannot be given such responsibility. She’s honest about the shame she feels accepting food stamps, about her family’s reaction to her coming out, and about the joy she experiences when she meets the woman who will become her wife. But whether she’s clashing with Jonathan’s biological father or battling for Jonathan’s education rights after he’s diagnosed with ADHD and autism, this is a woman who won’t give up. 
Hargrove’s memoir picks up where Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy left off, exploring generational trauma and pulling back the curtain on family court and poverty in America.  Moving and inspiring, Mama is an ode to motherhood and identity, to never giving up, and to finding strength in family and community.

Nikkya Hargrove will be joined in conversation by Baltimore Beat editor-in-chief Lisa Snowden-McCray. 

About the Author: 

Nikkya Hargrove is a graduate of Bard College and currently serves as a member of the school's Board of Governors and chair of the alumni/ae Diversity Committee. A LAMBDA Literary Nonfiction Fellow, she has written about adoption, marriage, motherhood, and the prison system for The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, Scary Mommy, and Shondaland. She has worked for social impact nonprofits providing support to underserved communities throughout her professional career. She lives in Connecticut with her wife and three children.

About the Moderator: 

Lisa Snowden-McCray is the editor-in-chief and cofounder of the Baltimore Beat.  She is a former editor at the Baltimore SunBaltimore City Paper, and Real News Network.  Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Essence, The Washington Post, and Baltimore Magazine. 

About the Program: 

  • To attend in person please register here
  • Doors will open to registered attendees at 6 pm. 
  • A local bookseller will be on-site and have books available for purchase.
  • Free parking vouchers are available to program attendees who park at the Franklin Street Garage (15 W. Franklin Street) after 4pm.  Ask Pratt event staff for your parking voucher prior to or after the program. 
  • This free event will be presented in-person and virtually.   

Virtual Meeting Information

There is no registration required for virtual attendance, simply visit the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Facebook or Youtube page. 

Tuesday, October 22 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Central Library, Wheeler Auditorium
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Event Type

Writers LIVE!, Virtual Event, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Age Group


Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Compass Sections

Writers LIVE (including Best & Next Series)

Event Publisher

Cleve Corner, Manager of Speaker & Author Engagement

Digital Signage



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