Sarah M. Johnson was born on July 10, 1931 in Cleveland County, NC. She moved to and settled in Hickory, NC in 1948 where she believed there would be greater job opportunities. Like many southern black women of her generation Sarah made a living as a domestic and factory worker, cleaning the homes of two prominent white families while simultaneously working as an employee of Hickory Springs Manufacturing. A single mother of seven, who reared them in a one-bedroom apartment in the Ridgeview community where the majority of black folks lived in Hickory, NC, Sarah worked tirelessly to make sure each of her children was provided for. Affectionately known throughout Hickory as “Miss Sarah” due to her generous spirit and gifts as an extraordinary baker, her desserts graced the tables of people far and wide. She rarely met a stranger. She was also well-known for her community activism as a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)-Hickory Branch. Sarah was honored as the Hickory Branch of the NAACP “Mother of Year” in 1986 and was also crowned North Carolina state “Mother of the Year” in the same year. What better way to honor her than to create a fellowship that embodies her creativity and commitment to social justice. She passed away on July 17, 2019 at the age of 88.
Given the significance of the number 7 in her Miss Sarah’s life (seven children, birth and death in the seventh month seven days apart; and, E. Patrick Johnson being the seventh child), the “Miss Sarah Fellowship for Black Women Writers” offers a 7-day retreat in the month of July at Trillium’s “Joe Brown” residence in Mars Hill, nestled in the lovely setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by the beauty of nature, or at E. Patrick and Stephen Lewis’s “Montford Manor” residence near downtown Asheville; transportation to and from Asheville; and, a $700 stipend. Whether one needs the quiet space and time to develop the seed of an idea for a new writing project or to complete a project underway, the Miss Sarah Writing Fellowship is designed to provide black women writers (fiction and nonfiction) uninterrupted time and a conducive environment to rest, reflect, and write. Donations will cover overhead costs making it possible for the Fellowship Awardee to attend free of charge. It's a wonderful way to support black women and honor "Miss Sarah's" legacy.
Applications for the Fellowship are being accepted through December 15. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of women writers, and the Fellow awardee will be in residence in July, 2021.
To understand the significance of our fundraising goal of $31,000, please watch the video!
For more information or to apply, please visit: https://www.trilliumartsnc.org/writing-fellowship