Carrie McCray Nickens (1914-2008) was a teacher, a social worker, an activist in the civil rights movement, and served as a governor of the Academy for many years.
Mrs. Nickens did not begin writing seriously until she was in her seventies. Her work first appeared in print in the 1980s, and her first collection of poems, Piece of Time, came out in 1993. In 1998, she was brought to literary prominence with the story about her mother, Freedom's Child: The Life of a Confederate General's Black Daughter (Algonquin). Her last major work was a narrative poem based on the tragic life of Ota Benga, an African pygmy once caged and exhibited by the Bronx Zoo.
The Nickens Fellowship was established in 2009 to support South Carolina poets whose work employs skilled verse composition and reflects a heightened awareness of the human condition. The submission period for the fellowship is in the autumn of each year. Announcement of when the fellowship contest opens will be posted under "News and Upcoming Events."