Founded in 2002, the mission of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY (CBL) is to expand, broaden, and enrich the public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of Black literature by people of the African Diaspora. The Center builds an audience for the reading, discussion, research, study, and critical analysis of Black literature through a variety of programs and partnerships. It is the only center devoted to this in the country. CBL was also established to institutionalize the National Black Writers Conference, founded by John Oliver Killens in 1986 at Medgar Evers College (MEC).
To achieve its mission, CBL offers literary programs and educational workshops for the public, students of all ages, teachers, writers, and artists. Among its core programs are the National Black Writers Conference, the Re-Envisioning Our Lives through Literature youth project, the Wild Seeds Writers Retreat, the Dr. Edith Rock Elder Writers Workshop, and the weekly Writers on Writing radio program. The Center also publishes the peer-reviewed Killens Review of Arts & Letters, and other journals generated from its youth and elders programs.
For nearly 20 years, the public and academic programs of the Center have been highly revered and have had a dynamic impact in the literary field. The author readings and book signings, journals, symposia, conferences, panel discussions, and writing workshops—and the Center’s intellectual and accessible approach to programming—form an integrative approach that sets CBL apart from others. CBL’s body of work is known for the way in which it ensures that Black literary scholarship and conversations are valued and sustained.
Housed in MEC’s School of Professional and Community Development, the Center collaborates with educational, literary, cultural arts, and media organizations—both locally and nationally. It partners with Medgar Evers College, the City University of New York, local high schools, as well as with the Center for Law and Social Justice, PEN America, the Brooklyn Literary Council, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, RestorationART at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and many other entities.
Dr. Brenda M. Greene is the founder and executive director of the Center for Black Literature.
For more information, please visit www.CenterForBlackLiterature.org