Last month, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College (MEC) presented the Twelfth National Black Writers Conference (NBWC), in which Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott was among this year’s honorees. Thanks to C-SPAN Book TV, a selection of panels from the Conference will be aired Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13. This is a great opportunity for people who missed this year’s conference, as well as for those who attended and want to recapture moments, to hear and view some of the dynamic, thought-provoking panel discussions featured at the event, which was held on the campus of Medgar Evers College, Thursday, March 27 through Sunday, March 30, 2014.
C-SPAN Book TV Schedule (please check local listings and set your DVRs)
Saturday, April 12th
12:00pm and rebroadcast at 12:00am (midnight, April 13th)
Race, Power, and Politics
Shifting Identities in Africa and the African Diaspora
Sunday, April 13th
2:00pm and rebroadcast at 2:00am (morning, April 14th)
Saving Ourselves, Saving Our Communities
Reconstructing the Historical Narrative
The State of Publishing
The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference featured a variety of literary figures that truly represented the theme of the Conference, “Reconstructing the Master Narrative.” Cheryl Wills, NY1 News anchor and an author in her own right, was Mistress of Ceremonies for the Tribute and Awards program in which best-selling author Walter Mosley; poet and writer Quincy Troupe; author Maryse Condé; and Margaret T. Burroughs, cofounder of the Du Sable Museum of African American History, in Chicago, were also honored for their outstanding contributions to African-American literature and culture.
Derek Walcott is the second Nobel Prize-winning author for literature to be recognized by and attend the National Black Writers Conference. “The awarding of the W.E.B. Du Bois Award to Derek Walcott at the Twelfth National Black Writers Conference reflects our praise and tribute to a man whose literary voice has impacted all parts of the African Diaspora,” said Dr. Brenda Greene, executive director at the Center for Black Literature. “Derek Walcott, from his place as a St. Lucian poet, playwright, and painter, writes of the world, of love, of the legacy of colonialism in his country, of the complexity of identity and of the search for self in language layered with images and metaphors that capture our unspoken desires, our questions, our rages, our paradoxes and our conflicts.”
Among the highlights of the 2014 NBWC was the preconference event “Audre Lorde: A Burst of Light” that featured keynote speaker Angela Davis. Before an audience of more than 500 people, Davis spoke of the relevance of the works of Lorde, who was an influential poet, writer, activist, and feminist. She also applauded the work of Esther Cooper Jackson, who received a tribute for her work with Freedomways, an influential journal that was published from 1961 to 1985 and acted as a political, cultural, and moral compass for social activists, attracting contributions from a wide array of socially conscious scholars, writers, and artists, as well as from prominent civil rights and African liberation leaders.
Other highlights of the 2014 Conference include engaging discussions on topics such as “Race, Power, and Politics,” which examined the interrelationships between race, power, and politics in the works of Black writers; “Reconstructing the Historical Narrative,” in which panelists discussed the ways they have reconstructed the master narrative through their creative works, and “The State of Publishing: A 2014 Odyssey,” a panel of publishing professionals who discussed some of the trends and challenges in today’s publishing industry. Author Gillian Royes, who presented on the panel “Shifting Identities in Africa and the African Diaspora,” said of the Conference: “It was productive, enlightening and inspirational.”
As with most of the NBWCs, which have been a tradition at Medgar Evers College since 1986, there were several components to the Conference for attendees to take in. This year, the Conference presented a Poetry Café at the Brooklyn Public Library, with poets Jessica Care Moore, Tony Medina, and Ed Mabrey; a film series coordinated by African Voices /Reel Sisters that featured Gordon Parks’s 1984 film “Solomon Northups Odyssey”; and the John Oliver Killens Reading Series that presented a host of authors who read from their recently released titles. There were also instructional talkshops led by published authors and publishing professionals.
The Center for Black Literature also celebrated a milestone: at the 2014 Conference: its Tenth Anniversary. Poets Quincy Troupe, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Tyehimba Jess, Staceyann Chin, T. Rasul Murray and Hermina Marcellin along with singer Kendra Ross performed and read as part of the festivities, which was hosted by MK Lewis.
For More Information
Contact: Jamilah Fraser
About Medgar Evers College
Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College is a growing institution offering both Associate and Baccalaureate degrees. The nearly 7,000-member student body is primarily comprised of those who are the first in their families to attend college. A senior college within The City University of New York (CUNY) system, Medgar Evers College was established in 1970 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community. With a commitment to students who desire a sound academic foundation as well as an opportunity for personal development, Medgar Evers College seeks to provide high-quality, professional, career-oriented undergraduate degree programs in the context of a liberal arts education. For more information, visit www.mec.cuny.edu.