Black History Month 2013- JOK Reading Series: "Voices of the Diaspora" – Photo Gallery

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College Celebrates Black History Month with Voices from the African Diaspora


NATIONAL –In celebration of Black History Month, on Thursday, February 21, 2013, the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, will host Voices from the African Diaspora: A Literary Salon featuring Pamela Newkirk, author of Letters from Black America; novelist and journalist Christopher John Farley; poet Tony Medina, author of An Onion of Wars; and poet Khalil Almustafa. The evening will serve as a kick-off event for the Center for Black Literature’s Tenth Anniversary and the Center will also be celebrating the publication of the Killens Review of Arts & Letters. The salon will also feature dramatic readings by Medgar Evers College students. Book signings will follow the event.

As part of CBL’s John Oliver Killens Reading Series, the literary salon is a tribute to the late John Oliver Killens, author, activist, social critic, educator and former writer-in-residence at Medgar Evers College. Killens spent four decades writing and working to support black writers and their work.  His vision was to host a National Black Writers Conference every year and he was the visionary leader behind the hosting of the Conference at the college.

The Killens Review of Arts & Letters, published by the Center for Black Literature, is a journal dedicated to supporting the mission and work of the John Oliver Killens Chair at Medgar Evers College.



About the Writers

Pamela Newkirk is professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and director of the undergraduate studies program at New York University. She is the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media (2000), which was awarded the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism and editor of A Love No Less: More Than Two Centuries of African American Love Letters (2003).  Her most recent book is Letters from Black America: Intimate Portraits of the African American Experience (2009), a collection of letters from a wide variety of African-Americans.

Christopher John Farley has worked as a music critic at Time magazine and is currently an editor at The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of two novels, My Favorite War (1996) and Kingston by Starlight (2005). His 2001 book Aaliyah: More Than a Woman was a national best seller. He is the coauthor of Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, the companion volume to the PBS series.  Farley is also the author of Before the Legend: the Rise of Bob Marley, which was named one of best books of 2006 by Black Issues Book Review. His short story is featured in the anthology Kingston Noir (2012), edited by Colin Channer.

Kahlil almustafa, known as the People’s Poet, is the 2002 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion and the author of four books of poetry and his debut CD CounterIntelligence. His collection of 15 years of poetry, Growing Up Hip-Hop, is used in more than 40 classrooms nationally from the elementary to the university level. In 2009, almustafa completed the “100 Poems for 100 Days” project where he wrote 100 poems in the first 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency published in a collection of poems entitled From Auction Block to Oval Office.

Tony Medina is the author/editor of sixteen books for adults and young readers, including DeShawn Days (Lee & Low Books, 2001), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Random House/Three Rivers Press, 2001), Love to Langston (Lee & Low Books, 2002), Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature & Art (Third World Press, 2002). Medina is the first Professor of Creative Writing at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and his poetry, fiction, and essays appear in more than ninety publications and two CD compilations. His latest books are The President Looks Like Me and Other Poems (Just Us Books, 2013); An Onion of Wars (Third World Press, 2012); I and I, Bob Marley (Lee & Low Books, 2009),  and My Old Man Was Always on the Lam (NYQ Books, 2011).

Javaka Steptoe is an eclectic young artist, designer, and illustrator, building a national reputation as an outstanding contributor to the genre of children’s literature. His debut work, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, earned him the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, a nomination for Outstanding Children’s Literature Work at the 1998 NAACP Image Awards, a finalist ranking for the Bluebonnet Award for Excellence in Children’s Books, and countless other honors. His books, Do You Know What I’ll Do? authored by Charlotte Zolotow and A Pocketful of Poems authored by Nikki Grimes, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and the ALA Booklist. Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, written by Karen English, received the 2005 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Steptoe is also the author/illustrator of The Jones Family Express. His most recent illustration projects include Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten, published in 2008 and Amiri and Odette: A Love Story by multi award winning author Walter Dean Myers, forthcoming in January 2009.