Brooklyn, NY: Medgar Evers College: The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference: Thursday, March 29, 2012 – Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Impact of Migration, Popular Culture, and the Natural Environment in the Literature of Black Writers

The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to migration, cultural memory, popular culture, and the natural environment.

Honorary Chair: Myrlie Evers-Williams


As our society becomes increasingly globalized, the themes in the literary texts and literature created by black writers throughout the African diasporic communities of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe are shifting and expanding in varying ways. There is recognition of the importance and value of preserving cultural memory and identity and of cultivating and nurturing cultural and geographical spaces. At the same time, there is also a recognition that politics and popular culture shape what we respond to, what we read, what gets published, what we teach, and what conversations we have in our literary communities, in the media, in our educational institutions, in our work environments, and in our homes.

Through novels, stories, poems, plays, memoirs, and essays, black writers have explored the importance of memory on our concepts of self and family. They have examined the impact of popular culture on our personal lives, belief systems, values, and traditions. And they have chronicled what happens when we neglect and do not nurture our natural environment. In essence, they have used the power of words and the literary arts to stir our imagination and to motivate us to affirm, critique, and reflect on our responses to personal, societal, and environmental issues in our lives. The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to migration, cultural memory, popular culture, and the natural environment.

Major funding provided by: National Endowment for the Arts

Media support provided by:

African American Literature Book Club, AKILA Worksongs, Inc.

2012 NBWC Honorees

Ishmael Reed – John Oliver Killens Lifetime Achievement Award

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – W. E. B. Du Bois Award

Nikki Giovanni – Gwendolyn Brooks Award

Dr. Howard Dodson – Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award


The National Black Writers’ Conference, first presented in 1986 as a result of the visionary leadership of the late John O. Killens. Past Honorary Chairs have included the likes of, Toni Morrison, Susan L. Taylor, Merlie Evers–Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader. Black writers come from throughout America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa to participate in panel discussions, roundtables, author readings and storytelling. The National Black Writers’ Conference examines the historical representation of the literature of Black writers and the representation of new and future directions for contemporary and emerging literary voices.

The National Black Writers’ Conference is a conference dedicated to the exploration of “emerging themes, trends and issues in Black American literature.” It is hosted by the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY and attracts writers, scholars, editors, agents, faculty, students and the general public. The National Black Writers’ Conference has addressed the themes of stereotypes in Black literature, the direction of Black literature, the renaissance in Black literature, access and expanding conversations on race, identity, history and genre. Each conference has built upon the previous one celebrating outstanding Black writers through the world.

Key to Locations:

                                         Bedford Building – 1650 Bedford Avenue

      • Founders Auditorium -1st Floor
      • President’s Conference Center(Room B1008) -1st Floor
      • N. B. Johnson Lecture Hall (Room B2008) 2nd Floor
      • Rotunda / Ticket booth– 1st Floor in front of Founders Auditorium

Academic Complex Building – 1638 Bedford Avenue

[AB1- on the map.]

      • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium -1st Floor
      • Room L11-1st Floor
      • Skylight Café- 2nd Floor (Cafeteria)

Student Services Building – 1637 Bedford Avenue

[S- on the map.]>

      • Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall (Room S122) -1st Floor
      • Atrium – 3rd Floor
      • Conference Room>3rd Floor

Room numbers beginning with “CP” indicates the Carroll St. Portable Buildings -1150 Carroll St. [‘C’ on the map.]

Parking in any MEC, CUNY lots are allowed by “permit only” for Thursday and Friday.

Pre-Registration, On-Site Registration, and Check-In

Location: Rotunda, Medgar Evers College

Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Opens 9 AM 10 AM 9:30 AM 9:30 AM
Closes 4:30 PM 8 PM 8 PM 4 PM

*Times subject to adjust based on need.

      • If you pre-registered on-line, please bring your bar coded confirmation with you to expedite your entry
      • Students, Faculty, and Seniors are required to present identification upon check-in.
      • On-site Registration begins on the first day of the Conference
      • Registration is required for ALL events, panels and workshops.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

9:30 a.m. ­– noon

Elementary School Program

Coordinated by Just Us Books


Founders Auditorium (Bedford Building)

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Welcome, Introduction of Just Us Books Giveaway Contest
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Presentation, Zetta Elliot
10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Giveaway Contest
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Presentation, Jerry Craft
11:45 a.m. – noon Giveaway Contest, Closing

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

High School Program

Coordinated by Nina Mercer


Founders Auditorium (Bedford Building)

Presentations by Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Tony Medina, and other poets.

10 a.m. ­– 12 p.m.

Middle School Workshop: Session 1

Workshop coordinated by Gregory Walker


Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall, Room S122

Medgar Evers College, Student Services Building (S Building)

10 a.m. ­– 12 p.m>

High School Workshop: Session 2

Workshop coordinated by PEN American Center


Room(s): TBD

Medgar Evers College

Presentation of Papers

10:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.


Edison O. Jackson Auditorium

Academic Complex Building (AB 1)

Faculty, independent researchers, and students present papers that examine the representation of history and memory in the works of one of the following honorees: Ishmael Reed, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Nikki Giovanni.

Papers will also be presented on John Oliver Killens.

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Post Modern Cultural Conflict and Satire in Selected Works by Ishmael Reed

Jimmy Cheffen: “Satire, Reed and Me”

Katherine Hazzard:  “Spoiled by New York: Ishmael Reed’s Representation of Travel”

Lavelle Porter: “Black(ness) No More: Academia and the Culture Wars in Ishmael Reed’s Japanese by Spring”

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Reconstructing History and Memory Through the Works of John Oliver Killens and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Oladipo Kehinde Paul: “The Impact of Migration, Popular Culture and the Natural Environment in the Literature of Black Writers”

Carlyle Van Thompson: “The Past Is Infinite: Reconstructing History and Memory in John Oliver Killens’s Youngblood.”

1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

The Life and Impact of Nikki Giovanni

Terry Cole: “Nikki Giovanni as a Mythographer”

Susan Watson Turner: “The Fire Inside: The Story and Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”

Lynette Velasco: “African-American Children’s Literature—Embracing the Majesty of Nikki Giovanni”

2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

The Life and Impact of Nikki Giovanni

Theatrical presentation by Susan Watson Turner: “The Fire Inside: The Story and Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”

4:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Elders Writing Workshop

Elders Writers Workshop Presentation, in partnership with Siloam Presbyterian Church Sponsored by Poets & Writers

Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

Off-Site Event

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m

NBWC Poetry Café


Brooklyn Public Library

10 Grand Army Plaza

Host: Tai Allen

Free and Open to the Public

Featuring poets Aracelis Girmay, Tony Medina, Patricia Smith, as well as emerging and established poets.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Films Celebrating Activism in Black Literature

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sponsored by the NBWC and African Voices

Founders Auditorium

Medgar Evers College

1650 Bedford Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11225

11:15  a.m

The Life and Times of Little Jimmy B

Director:  Alison McDonald

Synopsis: This film is a portrait of a young Black writer isolated in the God-fearing ghetto of Depression era Harlem. Rejected by his mother and his best friend, Jimmy seeks refuge in his relationship with Glenda, a prostitute. Herself a lost soul, she cannot comfort or console him but offers him something he’s never had before—acceptance.

11:35 a.m.

I Leave My Colors Everywhere

Directors: Tami Ravid    Producer: Julia de Boer

Synopsis:The film follows the work of a female poet living in Amsterdam who uses her poems to speak out on sexual violence against women, racism, and other injustices.


1:10 p.m.

Sonia Sanchez: Shake Loose Memories

Directors: Jamal Joseph, Rachel Watanabe-Batton

Producers: Voza Rivers, Jamal Joseph, and Rachel Watanabe-Batton

Synopsis: A musical and poetic journey through the life, art, and activism of Sonia Sanchez. Sanchez is a poetry icon, professor emeritus at Temple University, cofounder of the Black Arts Movement, pioneer of the Black Studies Program at San Francisco State, and a tireless fighter for human rights. She is a stuttering child from Alabama, abused stepdaughter from Harlem, single mother struggling to raise her children, artist and revolutionary battling oppression on all fronts.  Sanchez’s poetry, performance, and reflections are weaved together to create a moving “cine poem.” Featuring performances of her works by Amiri Baraka, Oscar Brown Jr., T.C. Carson, and Toshi Reagon.

2:15 p.m.

Panel Discussion and Q & A

Poets Sonia Sanchez, Ekere Tallie, filmmaker Alison McDonald, and author/filmmaker Jamal Joseph will participate in a conversation on the history of activism in Black literature and a discussion on the films presented. Maitefa Angaza, the managing editor of African Voices and c0producer of the film In Our Heads About Our Hair, will moderate.

Readings, Panels and Roundtable Discussions

Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

Book signings will take place in the President’s Conference Center after each reading, panel and discussion.

Poetry Reading & Roundtable Discussion

Sponsored by Third World Press

4:30 p.m.– 5:15 p.m.

Poetry Reading with Haki Madubuti and Tyehimba Jess

Poet, publisher, author, and educator Haki Madhubuti is founder and publisher of Third World Press, and founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University. His recently published titles include Yellow Black: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet’s Life; Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems, 1966–2009; and Honoring Genius: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice, Poems.

“By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented” Roundtable

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Diane D. Turner, Michael Simanga, and Regina Jennings discuss By Any Means Necessary—Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented, Critical Conversations on Manning Marable’s Biography of Malcolm X edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki Madhubuti.

Moderator: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Official Conference Opening

7:30 p.m – 9 p.m.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Terrie M. Williams

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Honoree and Featured Speaker

Founders Auditorium

Free and Open to the Public

(Registration/sign–in will be required for this event)

9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Concert: Off-Site Event

2012 NBWC Jazz Concert

Sponsored by the NBWC and Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium


For My Sweet

1103 Fulton Street

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Jazz concert and cultural program featuring Victor Brown, Bilal Sunni Ali, Larry McDonald, and Danny Bowens, former members of the late Gil Scott-Heron’s bands Midnight Band and Amnesia Express, along with special guests.

Key to Locations

Thursday, March 29

Friday, March 30

Saturday, March 31

Sunday, April 1>

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