Founded in 2003 and spearheaded by Brenda M. Greene, Ph.D., the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, builds on the tradition and legacy of the National Black Writers Conference that began in 1986.
The Center serves as a voice, mecca, and resource for Black writers and the general public to study the literature of people from the African Diaspora.
It is the only Center devoted to this in the country.
The Center for Black Literature has developed a network of audiences through its literary programs, the John Oliver Killens Reading Series, the Killens Review of Arts & Letters, and Conference proceedings. Among its major programs are the National Black Writers Conference, the Re-Imagining Our Lives through Literature, CUNY Arts High School Program, The Wildseeds Writers Retreat (formerly the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color), the “Writers on Writing” radio show, and its Elders Writing Workshop.
The Center for Black Literature was established in 2003 to institutionalize the National Black Writers Conference (NBWC). In addition to hosting the NBWC, the Center has a mission to provide a forum for the dissemination of knowledge about Black literature and to support Black writers and Black literature through author readings, workshops, retreats, and conferences. To achieve its mission, the Center partners with high schools, the college, and community and cultural organizations to provide literary arts to youth, college students, and the general public.
Founded in 2003, the mission of the Center for Black Literature is to expand, broaden, and enrich the public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature.
Through a series of programs that build an audience for the reading, discussion, and critical analysis of contemporary Black literature and that serve as a forum for the research and study of Black literature, the Center convenes and supports various literary programs and events such as author signings, writing workshops, panel discussions, conferences, and symposia.
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The National Black Writers Conference
The National Black Writers Conference has been held at Medgar Evers College since 1986. Inspired by the late John Oliver Killens and initially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Conference was first convened over a period of four days to bring together writers, critics, booksellers, book reviewers, and the general public in order to establish a dialogue on the social responsibility of the Black writer. Since 1986, subsequent conferences (1988, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018) have expanded this conversation to include discussions on stereotypes in Black literature; the direction of Black literature; the renaissance in Black literature; the impact of Black literature on society; literature as access and expanding conversations on race, history, identity, and genre; the ways in which the literature of Black writers transforms the world; the future direction of the literature of Black writers; and the impact of migration, popular culture and the natural environment in the literature of Black writers.
Maya Angelou was the keynote speaker for the first conference. Additional featured writers at the Conferences have included Toni Cade Bambara, Claude Brown, David Bakish, Paule Marshall, Alice Walker, Mari Evans, Ishmael Reed, Quincy Troupe, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, John Edgar Wideman, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, John Henrik Clarke, Jayne Cortez, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Walter Mosley, Houston Baker, Stanley Crouch, Terry McMillan, E. Lynn Harris, Colin Channer, Richard Wesley, Stanley Nelson, Eugene Redmond, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Randall Robinson, Marita Golden, and Gil Noble among others.
Meet the Team
Dr. Brenda M. Greene
Program Director - Re-Envisioning Our Lives through Literature (ROLL) Youth Program
Clarence V. Reynolds
Director/EIC-The Killens Review
Program Director - Elders Writing Program/ Tales of Our Time Anthology Project
Maēshay k. Lewis
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Center for Black Literature at
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225
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Center for Black Literature
School of Professional & Community Development
1534 Bedford Ave., 2nd FL
Brooklyn, NY 11216