We, the members of Black Star, a publication of Emory University, are formed to center mainly on issues directly affecting peoples of the African diaspora on the Emory University campus through publication of fiction and non-fiction writing. Without ignoring other racial, ethnic, and cultural interests or influences on those other groups, Black Star is dedicated to four major goals: promoting dialogue among different communities, raising awareness of and voicing the concerns of the Black community, uplifting the Black community, and creating effective solutions to better the Black community at large. With respect to educational, political, religious, racial, and social issues, Black Star is dedicated to meeting these goals by both subjective and objective analysis rather than simply restating the problem.
Meet the Staff
Christell Victoria Roach, Editor in Chief
Christell Victoria Roach is a writer born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is a double major in Creative Writing & African American Studies, studying under her mentor, poet Jericho Brown, at Emory University. She has traveled the country as an artist with Tigertail Productions and YouthSpeaks. She received National Medals for her poetry and writing portfolio in Carnegie Hall, and recently performed poetry in the Kennedy Center. As an alumna of various arts programs like Brave New Voices and YoungArts, she coaches performance & workshops the writing of students from: Miami, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, the DMV & the Bay Area. Christell has been published in Figment Literary Magazine, in Dog Eat Crow Magazine, in Rattle Literary Magazine, in the Postscript Journal, The Deltona Howl, in The Lyric Literary Magazine, The Blueshift Journal, Scalawag Magazine, and the Miami Rail. She was a 2015 YoungArts winner in poetry. She has studied with artists such as Jen Karetnick, Teo Castellanos, Kevin Young, Alysia Harris, Danez Smith, Matthew Shenoda, and Jericho Brown. Natasha Tretheway told her, "you have a powerful story to tell." Claudia Rankine has said of her poetry "I am so excited by your work. I can't wait to have it on my desk someday." Christell was a finalist in playwriting and poetry at the 2017 Agnes Scott Writers Festival, and won their competition for Dramatic Writing. Christell is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, Editor in Chief of Black Star Magazine, Vice President of the Black Student Alliance, a Student Administrator for Loose Cannons Literary Newsletter. She is writing her way to a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing, through research, poetry, playwriting, and performance studies. Her favorite quote is "passion overrides talent" and it inspires her to constantly become.
Mawuko (Momo) Kpodo, Creative Designer
Mawuko Kpodo is a third year Oxford Continuee student at Emory. She is passionate about anthropology and its dedication to people. She believes in anthropology's insistence that the discourse of humanity is worth knowing and is worth sharing. On campus, Momo is a part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Vice President of S.P.E.A.R. (Students for prison education, activism, and resistance), and an Emory Scholar. In the future, she plans to be an activist, a professor, a writer, and a social theorist.
Kyra O'Kelley, Creative Designer
Kyra O'Kelley is a Junior at Emory University who is double-majoring in Visual Arts and Marketing. She is currently pursuing a career in Advertising, where she will use her skill to advocate for black and minority narratives. Kyra is an artist, a singer, a lover of literature, and a revolutionary in the making. She believes that art can and has changed the world, and plans to utilize her talent and passion to dismantle systems of oppression.
Mariah Dozé, Managing Print Editor
Mariah Dozé, a Missouri native, will enter her second year of study at Emory University during the academic year of 2017-18. She plans to pursue her passion for social justice by majoring in sociology and then continuing on to attend law school. This academic year, Dozé will be a core leader of BASIC InterVarsity, the Community Service Chair of VOIS Gospel Choir, the Managing Print Editor of Black Star Magazine, and a member of the Black Pre-Law Society. Her favorite quote, stated by Louis Pasteur, reads: "Chance favors only the prepared mind."
Lauren Weems, Social Media Manager
Lauren Weems is a Cincinnati, Ohio native who loves everything media! A senior in the college studying Music Composition and Media Studies, she dabbles in everything from beat production to video editing. She serves as Social Media Manager for Black Star as well as an EBSU intern and WMRE radio show host. Her goals this year are to bridge together different social groups within the Black community at Emory and to be more involved on campus. Her motto is "some Ls are bigger than others."
Imani Brooks, Web Designer
Imani Brooks is a sophomore in the College majoring in International Studies and minoring in Global Health. She hopes to pursue law school after Emory and work abroad. She got started with Black Star as a staff writer after a summer as a freelance writer for Rookie Magazine, Fusion, MTV News and more. She is very grateful for the opportunity to explore her passion for writing with the brilliant minds behind Black Star and to serve the Black Emory community as staff for Black Star.
Besides Black Star, while at Emory, Imani is a proud member of the Omicron Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She serves as the current president of the Black Student Alliance. She is a tutor in the Writing Center. Never forgetting her small Virginian hometown and the melanin that graces her skin, Imani’s essence that empowers her can be wrapped up in one quote by the magnificent Maya Angelou: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
Linda Akinnawonu, Treasurer
Linda Akinnawonu, a true New Yorker. She was born and raised in Queens and is a sophomore at Emory University where she double majors in Psychology and Political Science, concentrating on international politics. She's had the opportunity to travel to Ireland studying global activism and international relations which as sparked her interests and love of writing. Her interests are centered around public policy and governmental affairs while promoting the educational and social needs of the Black community around the world. In the past two years, she has had the opportunity to intern with Deloitte as a summer intern where she presented a proposal to foster growth in the firm's portfolio of philanthropic efforts towards African countries and as a legal intern for Vista Equity Partners. In addition to her position with Black Star, Linda is the secretary of the African Student Association and Communications and Publicity Chair for the Black Pre-Law Society. She is currently interning at the Emory Black Student Union as an Outreach and External Affairs Intern. She hopes to pursue a career in entertainment or corporate law. As of right now, she uses Black Star as her opportunity to express her love of writing while celebrating the community she loves.
Kira A. Tucker, Staff Writer
Kira A. Tucker is a sophomore English and Creative writing major and Robert W. Woodruff Scholar striving for a success as a best-selling author and professor. She is a published writer, freelance blogger, award-winning slam poet, and nationally-honored visual artist. In her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Kira’s original mural proudly displays her creative talents beyond the page and offstage. At Emory, she combines her love of arts and activism through her leadership as an executive director of the mental health and arts advocacy collective, Emory Dark Arts, as well as her involvement in a social justice and spoken word performance group known as Emory’s Issues Troupe. In spring of 2017, she received the Most Influential Black Girl Award from the Emory NAACP for her advocacy and service. Her passions also span the globe, as she is fluent in Russian and has traveled abroad as a student ambassador to Poland. She plans to use her love of arts, culture, and political action to experience the world over, seizing every opportunity that lights her path to [Black Star]dom.
Chad Tucker, Staff Writer
Chad Tucker is a fiction author, policy debater, and aspiring intellectual hailing from the south side of Chicago, Illinois. He, a sophomore in the College, is studying English and Chinese to unveil critical perspectives on identity, politics, and the meaning of life, whatever they may be. He wants to be a writer one day (or a lawyer), like James Baldwin and Vladimir Nabokov and Saidiya Hartman.
Adama Kamara, Staff Writer
Adama Kamara is a writer from Lexington, Virginia. She is a sophomore at Emory University , Double Majoring in International Relations and Anthropology. She pursues a career in civil rights/human rights law and currently serves on the exec board of Emory's Black Pre-Law Society. Adama is passionate about social justice and giving a voice to marginalized groups and aims to so through what she writes and and her work with various organizations on Emory's campus.