Mission of the Center for Black Literature & the National Black Writers Conference

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College 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. The Center for Black Literature 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.

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.

The Center also collaborates with Medgar Evers College and various institutions including public schools, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, the PEN American Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. to present its programs. In order to accomplish its mission and sustain its programming, the Center must raise funds through individuals interested in supporting the arts as well as private and public organizations and foundations.

Funding for CBL programs has been provided by companies and organizations such as ConEdison, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, The New-York Historical Society, New York City Council  (NYCC) Members Inez Barron & Laurie Cumbo, NYCC Brooklyn Delegation, the New York Council for the Humanities, Poets & Writers, and Brooklyn Community Foundation.

Spearheaded by Dr. Brenda M. Greene, the Center for Black Literature has developed a network of audiences through its 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 (ROLL), CUNY Arts High School Program, the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color, the “Writers on Writing” radio show, and its Elders Writing Workshop.

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