(l to r) Danny Glover, Sapphire, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jaqueline Woodson
(l to r) Danny Glover, Sapphire, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jaqueline Woodson

The Center for Black Literature has announced the 2015 National Black Writers Conference will be held Saturday, March 28, on the campus Medgar Evers College.

This year’s conference, entitled, Voices of Liberation and Resistance,” will focus on activism, liberation and resistance in literature and the arts, with a special tribute to the work of actor and activist Danny Glover and panel discussions led by a highly esteemed group of writers across diverse genres and generations, including Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Bridgett M. Davis, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Jamal Joseph, Haki Madhubuti, Kevin Powell, Sapphire, Askia Tour and Jacqueline Woodson.


There is a proverb that as long as we tell the stories of our ancestors and repeat their names, we keep them alive,” says, Dr. Brenda Greene, executive director of the Center for Black Literature. “We have to create venues and forums that enable us to keep the legacy, experiences and stories of those who came before us alive. And we have to ensure that the present generation understands the basis for carrying forward this tradition and is poised to do so.

Every other year, the NBWC presents the Biennial Symposium which honors the life and work of a specific writer or artist. Past tributes have included Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, August Wilson, John Oliver Killens and Bob Marley. This year’s tribute will be of the cultural and sociopolitical actor, activist, humanitarian and producer Danny Glover.

Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Glover has dedicated himself to the production of films of historical relevance, social purpose and artistic integrity, with a personal record of addressing issues on the economic development of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The NBWC will acknowledge and honor his influence and presence in the film industry and tradition of social consciousness and resistance among fellow artists and writers.

Through panel discussions, readings, and a film presentation, the participants will engage the public in deep discussions of the legacy of activism and its impact on contemporary writers and artists and will examine the ways in which writers and artists use their work to raise public awareness of these issues.

About the Program

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic who writes about culture, politics, and social issues, will lay a foundation for the discussion. Coates discussion will be followed by a viewing of the film The Black Power Mixtape 19671975, which is compiled from the footage of Swedish journalist Goran Hugo Olsson. The film samples very powerful voices from the 1960s and 1970s and injects contemporary commentary from older people who were involved with the movement and younger people (including Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and Questlove, who say their lives were changed by it.

Kevin Powell, author of books on politics and culture, and Jamal Joseph, writer, director, activist and educator, will provide a critical response to the film; the audience will then participate in a Q and A with Powell and Joseph. The post-discussion will be followed by a panel of writers whose work examines the intersection of literature, politics, culture and activism.

Panelists include writers Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr and Askia Tour from the Black Arts Movement, novelist and educator Bridgett M. Davis and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. Following the discussion will be select readings representing voices of liberation and resistance: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, Sapphire, and Thomas Sayers Ellis.

The program will close with a keynote from Danny Glover.

For more information on the program, to register and purchase tickets, go here.

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