National Council of Teachers of English Unveils Plans for Groundbreaking 2021 Annual Convention - National Council of Teachers of English

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National Council of Teachers of English Unveils Plans for Groundbreaking 2021 Annual Convention

Michelle Obama to share inspiration and insights with literacy educators from across the United States in Opening Keynote.


NCTE Media Contact:

Marvin Young,

Champaign, Illinois—

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has unveiled plans for its 2021 Annual Convention, slated to take place both online and in person in Louisville, Kentucky, from November 18–21, 2021.

Attendees will have access to livestreamed sessions from dozens of informative and inspiring General Session and featured speakers, as well as more than 500 virtual sessions led by literacy educators from across the country.

“So many teachers depend on this annual event—NCTE’s 111th—for knowledge sharing, inspiration, and community support. We are thankful NCTE can once again lead in trying times. With the participation of many partners, NCTE offers inspiring, influential speakers—all of whom illustrate the capacity of our individual and collective stories to change our lives, our communities, and our world,” NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick said.

The theme for the 2021 NCTE Annual Convention is “Equity, Justice, and Antiracist Teaching.” In announcing her theme for the Convention, Program Chair Valerie Kinloch said, “I hope: That we will collectively examine our teaching and discuss our research. That we will enter conversations wherever we are in our learning and in our knowing. That we will embrace opportunities to have necessary and difficult conversations about literacy and English language arts. That we will leave more knowledgeable, invested, challenged, and involved in the work of equity, justice, and antiracist teaching with students, with families, with communities, and with each other.”

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017, will deliver the Thursday, November 18, opening general session for both in-person and online audiences. Mrs. Obama’s remarks are anticipated to focus on her memoir, Becoming, a #1 New York Times bestseller that won an NAACP Image Award, was named one of Essence’s 50 Most Impactful Black Books of the Past 50 Years, and was selected as an Oprah’s Book Club pick. Becoming has been adapted into an edition for young readers and is the basis for Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice. Earlier this summer, NCTE featured Becoming as part of “Bringing Memoir into the Secondary Classroom,” a virtual professional learning event for NCTE members.

“As young people return to the classroom during this challenging time, it’s important to make sure educators have the tools they need to help students navigate the complicated world around them. The 2021 NCTE Annual Convention will be an opportunity for English teachers to come up with creative ways to help young people step back and reflect on how race, equity, and justice impact their lives. I’m so proud that Becoming is a part of this narrative shift, and I am looking forward to joining this year’s conference with so many distinguished authors and writers,” Mrs. Obama said.

Mrs. Obama is also the author of American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America and recently contributed the introduction for Follow That Food!, a picture book tie-in with Waffles + Mochi, a Netflix children’s series from Higher Ground Productions, the production company she shares with President Obama.

The NCTE Annual Convention program includes additional keynote speakers:

  • Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. She is a committed advocate for the environment, racial equality, and gender justice. Gorman’s activism and poetry have been featured on the Today Show, PBS Kids, and CBS This Morning, and in the New York Times, Vogue, Essence, and O After graduating cum laude from Harvard University, she now lives in her hometown of Los Angeles. In 2017, Gorman was appointed the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate by Urban Word, a program that supports Youth Poets Laureate in more than 60 cities, regions and states nationally. Gorman’s performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration received critical acclaim and international attention. The special edition of her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was published in March 2021 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times<, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists. Her debut picture book, Change Sings, will be published in September 2021, and her poetry collection, Call Us What We Carry, will release in December 2021. Please visit
  • Colson Whitehead is author of the forthcoming Harlem Shuffle. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten works of fiction and nonfiction, and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and the 2020 Prize for American Fiction from the Library of Congress, he lives in New York City.
  • George M. Johnson is the author of the upcoming memoir We Are Not Broken, to be published in September 2021. Johnson has written for major outlets, including Teen Vogue, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, The Root, Buzzfeed, Essence, Ebony, THEM, and The Grio. They have also served as Guest Editor for’s Pride month. They were awarded the 2019 Salute to Excellence Award by the National Association of Black Journalists for their article “When Racism Anchors your Health” in Vice Magazine, and named to The Root 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2020. They are the author of the bestselling memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue.

A virtual preconference general session on Wednesday, November 17, will feature Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, and Nikkolas Smith, the coauthors and illustrator of the forthcoming The 1619 Project: Born on the Water. The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States.

Registration is now open for the online 2021 NCTE Annual Convention at If the in-person component of this year’s Convention is determined to be advisable in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, registered attendees wishing to convert their registration from online to in-person at a future date may do so without a fee.

Early-bird registration fees are in effect through November 1, 2021, and are as follows:

  • NCTE Member – $199
  • NCTE Student Member – $112
  • NCTE Emeritus Member – $145
  • Nonmember – $350

About NCTE

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. For more than 100 years, NCTE has worked with its members to offer journals, publications, and resources; to further the voice and expertise of educators as advocates for their students at the local and federal levels; and to share lesson ideas, research, and teaching strategies through its Annual Convention and other professional learning events.