15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC)
November 11 – 14, 2020
— PROGRAM SCHEDULE —
In 2020, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY will present the 15th National Black Writers Conference and the theme this year is “Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads.” The Conference is a public gathering of writers, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film luminaries, students, and the public and, this year, will honor playwrights, screenwriters, documentarians, and filmmakers. Carl Clay, Dominique Morisseau, Stanley Nelson, Voza Rivers, and Richard Wesley are the 2020 conference honorees. This year’s gathering, also known as NBWC2020, will be Wednesday, November 11 – Saturday, November 14.
PLEASE NOTE: In October and November, The Center will host a series of Pre-Conference activities related to the Conference’s theme.
Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the writing and works by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. These writers, at a crossroads, are focused on breaking new ground; creating bold new work in theater, film, and television; and expanding the narrative of the Black experience in America and throughout the African Diaspora. Panelists and special guests will examine the ways race, identity, politics, and popular culture shape the production of plays, films, and television shows. The Conference features virtual roundtable conversations, panel discussions, a town hall, films, author readings, writing workshops, local vendors, and much more. AKILA WORKSONGS is a presenting partner for the 15th National Black Writers Conference.
Originally scheduled for March 2020 on the campus of Medgar Evers College (MEC) in Brooklyn, New York, this new presentation of NBWC2020 will be virtual. The Center for Black Literature (CBL) supports the public health protocols that have emerged because of COVID-19, including social distancing. With that in mind, we have decided to present NBWC2020 as a series of online webinars.
For more information, please visit www.centerforblackliterature.org. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities or to request media interviews, please call (718) 804-8883 or email email@example.com.
PRE-CONFERENCE PROGRAM 2020
Thursday, October 8
JOHN OLIVER KILLENS READING SERIES
“Black Divas on Stage: Challenges of Women Playwrights”
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
These panelists represent three generations of Black women who work to make sure that people who look like them are the center of their narratives. They will identify some of the issues and challenges they faced: racism, sexism, images, themes, etc., as playwrights and actors.
Speakers: Elizabeth Addison, Ebony Jo-Ann, Trazana Beverley, and Nambi E. Kelley.
Curated and moderated by MARCIA PENDELTON of Walk Tall Girl Productions.
Tuesday, October 20
“The Hate U Give: A Film Discussion on the Racial Pandemic in America”
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
The Hate U Give is a 2018 American drama film directed George Tillman Jr. with a screenplay by Audrey Wells. It is based on the 2017 young adult novel (of the same name) by Angie Thomas. Respondents will discuss the major themes in the film and examine its significance in light of current movements and protests related to racism, police reform, and social justice. Click HERE to watch the trailer.
Respondents: AFAFOLABI CLARKE, SHAFIKA BURKE, KEL SPENCER, and MARIA DELONGORIA
Moderator: ZULEMA BLAIR (Professor, MEC)
Wednesday, November 4
“Black Writers Address Activism Before, During, (and After?) the Age of Trump”
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Black activism has been chronicled in multiple works and genres by Black writers. Now, during the Age of Trump, Black writers will provide their vision of the role that they will/should/must play during this time of turmoil and change.
Speakers: To Be Announced
Friday, November 6
NBWC POETRY SLAM
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
The 15th NBWC presents a poetry and spoken-word competition. All poets are welcome to participate in this popular slam. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded.
Host and MC: TARISHI “MIDNIGHT” SHULER
Presented and curated by CURTIS HARRIS of Green Earth Poets Café.
MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM
DAY ONE: Wednesday, November 11 | COMMUNITY DAY (Free!)
NBWC OPENING KEYNOTE
“For the Culture”
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
A stellar roster of hip-hop, spoken-word, and performance artists will examine films and plays from sociocultural, political, and global perspectives. They will also discuss the intersections of activism, identity, race, and art in theater and film.
Featured Speakers: TALIB KWELI and JESSICA CARE MOORE
Moderated by APRIL R. SILVER of AKILA WORKSONGS (NBWC Presenting Partner)
DAY TWO: Thursday, November 12
PRESENTATION OF CONFERENCE PAPERS
Scholars and writers discuss works of honorees and featured speakers who have had their work developed into dramatic plays, screenplays, and documentaries. Curated by MUDIWA PETTUS (Assistant Professor of English, MEC).
11:00 AM – 12:20 PM
“Re-Casting Our Experience: The Dismantling of African American Works of Fiction Within the Film Industry As Seen In The Works of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple” | Chy’Na “Empress Beatrice” Nellon (Philander Smith College) – Invited
“Pink and Black: Romanticizing the Urban Diurnal” | Christina Knowles (Hunter College, CUNY) – Invited
12:30 PM – 1:50 PM
“The Wake Work of ‘Cartography” | Nicole Walker (Lehman College, CUNY)
“‘wild until we are free’: community, culture, and the self, in The Chi” | Allia Abdullah-Matta (La Guardia Community, CUNY)
“From Researcher to Content Creator: One Scholar’s Journey” | Donnetrice Allison (Stockton University)
“Where We Stand: Afrika, the Black Aesthetic in Theatre, and Audience” | Ms. AkulahAgbami (Director of BLACK* artists on the move; Artistic Dir. of Sheba Soul Ensemble)
Moderator: Nsubuga Bright Titus (Institute of Culture and Social Anthropology, Vienna University) – Invited
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
“Mad Science: A Brief Survey of Medical Bias In Superhero Origin Stories” | Alexander Wright III (Research Affiliate, MIT; CEO, Multimer & Supervisor of Outpatient Medical Programs at The Kennedy Krueger Institute), and Arlene Ducao (Adjunct Associate Professor, NYU School of Engineering; Research Affiliate, MIT; CEO, Multimer)
“From Short Story to Screen: James’ Coming of Age and Transformation from Boy toMan (and Not Bum) in Ernest J. Gaines’ “The Sky Is Gray” | Dr. Pearlie Peters (Rider University)
Moderator/Respondent: Dr. Carlyle Thompson (Medgar Evers College, CUNY)
DR. EDITH ROCK ELDERS WRITING WORKSHOP PRESENTATION
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Members of the Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop will present readings on the theme called “Home Remedies.” Also, they will survey the African Diaspora with sharp, funny memories of poultices, powders, and potions created to maintain wellness in our diverse Black communities. They see this as resistance to gentrification, big pharma, and the racism that manifests in the form of disease when we aren’t vigilant about strengthening our physical selves. Curated by EISA NEFERTARI ULEN (Workshop Instructor, Center for Black Literature, MEC).
Moderated by AMBER MAGRUDER (Writer and Editor, Office of Communications and Marketing, MEC).
NBWC POETRY CAFÉ
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The Center for Black Literature, in partnership with Brooklyn Public Library, will present its Poetry Cafe.
Featured Poets: Dennis F., Chevon Guthrie, Kirk Hill Jr., and John Gavin White
Curated by WENDY ROBINSON and TAI ALLEN
NBWC FILM DISCUSSION
“Milestones: A Celebration of Revolutionary Music & Thought”
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
The 15th National Black Writers Conference and African Voices magazine will present this selection of films celebrating the power of music to inspire community action and empowerment. The showcase includes a slice of award-winning films from Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series, the first Academy qualifying festival for short narratives devoted to women of color. NOTE: Conference attendees will have access to the films before the Conference.
Curated and coordinated by AFRICAN VOICES/REEL SISTERS OF THE DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL
DAY THREE: Friday, November 13 | Daytime Host: WALLACE L. FORD II
SCREENWRITING and PLAYWRITING TALKSHOPS
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Invited Talkshop Leaders: CEDRIC HILL (screenwriting) and DARREL ALEJANDRO HOLNES (playwriting)
“The Role of the Media, Critics, and Reviewers on Black Plays and Film”
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Presented as a Community Conversation, the Town Hall will examine the role of the media, critics, and reviewers in (1) shaping the writing of playwrights and screenwriters and (2) in bringing the dramatic play to the stage and the screenplay to the screen.
The conversation will include emerging and seasoned panelists whose work is impacted by professional critics and the media-at-large. Audience members will be encouraged to provide their views on the subject and suggest ways for moving forward.
Speakers: David Greaves, Pamela Newkirk, Marcia Pendelton, Lisa Cortés, and Vinson Cunningham (invited).
Moderated by BRIDGETT M. DAVIS
Sponsored by Our Time Press
“The Impact of Hip-Hop and Popular Culture on Black Playwriting and Screenwriting”
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Panelists will examine how hip-hop and popular culture have influenced and shaped the plays, films, and television scripts created by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. They will also look at trends in experimental theater and independent films by Black playwrights and screenwriters.
Speakers: DasanAhanu, NSangouNjikam, Carl Hancock Rux, and Shaun Neblett.
Moderated by SADE LYTHCOTT of the National Black Theatre (invited)
“Telling Our Stories: Transcending Barriers and Boundaries on Stage and Screen”
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Artists and writers interrogate their interior lives and collective experiences to document their stories in a country where racism, sexual violence, gender discrimination, alienation, miseducation, immigration, and cultural conflicts are very present. The speakers here will explore these issues in theater, film, and television.
Speakers: Donja R. Love, Amina Henry, Nina Angela Mercer, and H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams.
Moderated by DIONNE BENNETT (Assistant Professor, New York City College of Technology)
5:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Performed by ALEXIS ALLEYNE-CAPUTO, interdisciplinary artist, writer, and filmmaker
SHORT FILM SCREENINGS AND TALKBACK
“RACE CARD: Short Films Exploring Activism, Identity, and Race”
5:45 PM – 7:00 PM
ImageNation’s Sōl Cinema Cafe is proud to present a discussion: RACE CARD: Short Films Exploring Activism, Identity, and Race. These short works delve into these issues with wit, humor, and brutal honesty, in an effort to spark dialogue and affect change.
Featured works* include Paris Blues in Harlem, a dramatic look at gentrification in this historic Black community; Harriet Returns, a satire that ponders what Harriet Tubman would say to today’s youth; Burden, an exploration of the Black man’s burden in America; and Little Apple, an award-winning web series featuring a nine-year-old superhero who defends her community. The film discussion will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A session. RACE CARD offers a taste of what the new, Harlem-based Sōl Cinema Cafe offers. More at www.solcinemacafe.com. NOTE: Conference attendees will have access to the films before the Conference.
Moderated by MOIKGANTSI KGAMA
NBWC SUMMIT KEYNOTE
Friday, November 13, 2020
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
The Summit Keynote of the National Black Writers Conference will feature a robust conversation with Woodie King Jr., Stanley Nelson, Voza Rivers, and Ngozi Anyanwu (invited).
Moderated by NINA ANGELA MERCER | Host: LURIE DANIEL-FAVORS
DAY FOUR: Saturday, November 14 | Daytime Host: KEL SPENCER
PUBLISHING, POETRY, FICTION, AND PLAYWRITING TALKSHOPS
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Workshop Leaders: DONNA HILL ( fiction), GLENDA HOWARD and NORMA PEREZ-HERNANDEZ (publishing), ARRIEL VINSON (poetry), and LIZA JESSIE PETERSON (playwriting).
“Defying Stereotypes: Writing Plays, Films, and Scripts from the Black Gaze”
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Panelists will explore the manner in which Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters provide the Black gaze in the works they create. They will also examine the importance of writing stories and plays that depict the full spectrum of the Black community and experiences; the importance of resisting stereotypes and creating complex characters to reveal our interior lives; and how gender and identity politics impact the works that are created for the stage, film, and television.
Panelists: Sandra Shannon, Shay Youngblood, Eisa Davis, and B. Nandi Jacob.
Moderator: WALLACE L. FORD II
“The Playwright and Screenwriter as Activist”
2:45 PM – 4:00 PM
Addressing racial and other social justice issues in plays and films, the panelists of this roundtable discussion will examine how today’s climate influences character, plot, and viewpoint in the works they create.
Speakers: Keith Josef Adkins, Ngozi Anyanwu (invited), and Liza Jessie Peterson.
Moderator: ADESOLA OSAKALUMI
“Black Theater and Film: Looking Back, Moving Forward”
4:15 PM – 5:30 PM
This roundtable will focus on “Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Knowledge, Social Justice, and Excellence” at Medgar Evers College. Panelists take a look at current and future trends in plays, screenplays, and scripts written by Black writers and address the question: Do we need more complex and nuanced stories in theater, television, and film? They also discuss the importance of diversifying the film and theater industry and ways to inspire the next generation of writers and filmmakers.
Speakers: Carl Clay, Aurin Squire, Elizabeth Van Dyke, and Richard Wesley.
Moderator: SANDRA ADELL
DAY FOUR: Saturday, November 14 | Evening Host: ANTOINETTE ROBERSON
NBWC AWARDS AND TRIBUTE PROGRAM
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Opening Libation by CHIEF BABA NEIL CLARKE
A Tribute to Toni Morrison by SANDRA GUZMAN, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and author.
Presentations by NBWC2020 Honorees:
HOW TO CONTACT AND ENGAGE WITH US
- Website: www.centerforblackliterature.org
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- NBWC Facebook: @NationalBlackWritersConference
- Twitter: @Center4BlackLit
- Instagram: @Center4BlackLit
- YouTube: @CenterForBlackLiteratureMedgarEversCollege
For Registration Information, Participants’ Bios,
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and More, Call or Email at (718) 804-8883 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Program topics, participants, dates, and times are subject to change. Updated last: August 12, 2020.