In Memoriam: Yvonne Brown

[ By: Victoria Garcia Unzueta ]

Yvonne Brown (April 18, 1977 – November 26, 2021)

The Project on the History of Black Writing mourns the passing of author and educator Yvonne Brown who passed away recently due to COVID-19.

Yvonne Brown was the author of the acclaimed novel, Crying Girl (2019) and the founder of the Crying Girl Movement, which started as a marketing campaign for her novel, but evolved into a movement that encourages women from all walks of life to share their stories and express their inner strength. Brown’s writing has been published in the Chasing Rainbows blog, The Voices and Maryland Writers Project, broadcasted on Radio One and highlighted in PAPER magazineBrown was also the original director for Lyrikal Storm Arts and Edutainment, a Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Crying Girl is a remarkable novel of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into both Iran and uniquely vibrant Iranian woman and her American daughter. Yvonne Brown has written a novel permeated by hardship, triumph, and the intense love between mother and daughter. -Jasmin Darznik, Song of a Captive Bird

Dr. Maryemma Graham, Yvonne Brown and her daughters at the James A. Porter Gallery of Afro-American Art

“I helped Yvonne edit her novel Crying Girl and it was such a labor of love for her. She appreciated literature and writing so much and was deeply invested in the process of crafting this intensely personal narrative”, said Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt, HBW Program Coordinator.

In 2005, while working as an English teacher at Parkdale High School, Brown was selected as one of 29 scholars chosen to participate in HBW’s NEH funded Summer Institute, Language Matters II: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison. From there, Brown went on to work for the Toni Morrison Society for 15 years in different capacities, ranging from archivist to her most current role as Social Media Chair.

“Yvonne made us acutely aware of why persistence pays off. From the first time I met her at our Language Matters Institute, it was clear that “doing it later” was unacceptable to her. She was passionate about Morrison’s work; she was passionate about everything, and her support for the Toni Morrison Society was invaluable. We could count on her as a thought partner, always one to think outside the box. Yvonne forged her own path and leaves a legacy which Layla and Samira as well as the rest of us will always cherish. I urge everyone to read Crying Girl,” said Maryemma Graham, HBW Founder.

Brown is survived by her two daughters Layla and Samira, and her siblings Darlene Sagheer, Kevin Brown, and Eric Brown. A Go Fund Me to support Brown’s daughters is currently taking donations. If you’d like to donate and send your condolences, click here.




“I remember you. You’re the Crying Girl.” – Toni Morrison, Northern Kentucky University July 2005


Victoria Garcia Unzueta, currently serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) where she manages the social media team and organizes the content that’s featured on HBW’s blog and social media sites. She is a junior studying journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications. Her future plans are to work in advertising helping non-profits or internationally focused businesses. Victoria joined the HBW team their freshman year as an Emerging Scholar undergraduate research assistant. She worked with the social media team to curate blog posts and social media content. They also worked on HBW’s 2020 Black Literary Suite “Black Writing in Reel Time” where she helped research and write.