Remembering Valerie Boyd

Remembering Valerie Boyd

February 15, 2022
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part tribute to the legacy of Valerie Boyd. Please read the second part here.


Boyd is being remembered by many of her former students, colleagues and friends. To view a collection of thoughts being shared, please see Memories of Valerie Boyd: A curated collection.

Valerie Boyd, writer, teacher, motivator and encourager, died Feb. 12, 2022, leaving many former students, colleagues and friends grieving, but grateful for the time they shared.

“Valerie Boyd’s towering prose, gentle spirit and moral compass will be greatly missed by all of us,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “She possessed a rare combination of gift and grit, a colleague who, once she set to a task, never let go. Her work with our MFA program set the course for what has become a family of writers – a family that grieves today, but also celebrates what she helped to build.

Boyd was an award-winning author who turned to teaching in 2004, following several years as the arts editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She was named the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence in 2007, and Boyd has directed the Giving Voice to the Voiceless grant program created by Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ron Gault.

Her lasting legacy at Grady College will be the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program in Narrative Nonfiction, which she envisioned for several years before it became a reality in 2015. This program is one of two tracks in the MFA Narrative Media Writing program, which also includes a screenwriting discipline.

She is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography, “Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston,” which brought her numerous accolades including a Southern Book Award, an American Library Association’s Notable Book Award and a Georgia Author of the Year Award in nonfiction.

Boyd spent the last several years curating and editing the journals of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker. “Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker” is scheduled to be published this spring.

In 2017, Boyd received a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities.