Program Description: “Gathering at the Waters: Healing, Legacy, and Activism in Black Literature”

14th National Black Writers Conference: “Gathering at the Waters: Healing, Legacy, and Activism in Black Literature”

2018 NBWC Honorary Co-Chair Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams

Honorees: Steven Barnes, Kwame Dawes, Tananarive Due, David Levering Lewis, Eugene B. Redmond, Susan L. Taylor, and Colson Whitehead

Program updated: Wed. March 21, 2018, 1:30 PM.

Thursday, March 22 – Sunday, March 25, 2018; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Medgar Evers College, CUNY, Founders Auditorium
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Registration information

Conference Description:

The 14th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC), a major program hosted by the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, will be held at Medgar Evers College, from Thursday, March 22, to Sunday, March 25, 2018. Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams is the Honorary Chair. Award-winning writers Colson Whitehead, Kwame Dawes, David Levering Lewis, Susan L. Taylor, speculative fiction writers Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, and cultural historian Eugene B. Redmond are 2018 National Black Writers Conference Honorees. Through invigorating panel discussions and roundtable conversations, author readings, film screenings, workshops, and performances, writers, scholars, literary professionals, students and the general public will convene over four days to discuss issues related to the conference theme, to examine the state of literature produced by Black writers, to listen to writers read from their work and to attend writers’ workshops.

The theme of the 14th National Black Writers (NBWC) “Gathering at the Waters: Healing, Legacy, and Activism in Black Literature” acknowledges our concern about the recent, and still continued, issues of social inequality and injustices that challenge us and builds on the legacy of healing through activism. This timely theme centers on the ways in which Black writers use their writing to explore and convey messages that heal and restore our individual selves and collective community. The Conference will also examine the instrumental role that Black writers have played in building our cultural history; the imprint that this has left in Black literature; and how the literature of Black writers has impacted present-day and future generations. And lastly, we will also look at the significance of activism in writers’ works, that is how a writer’s beliefs and personal vigorous action are used to support the political and social change they want to see take place in today’s society and in the world. A major strand of the Conference will be a series of panels focused on “Community Conversations on Race, Resistance, & Activism.”

Key to Locations:
Bedford Building – 1650 Bedford Avenue
[B- Building on the map.]
• Founders Auditorium – 1st Floor
• President’s Conference Center(Room B1008) – 1st Floor
• N. B. Johnson Lecture Hall (Room B2008) – 2nd Floor
• Rotunda / Ticket booth – 1st Floor in front of Founders Auditorium

Academic Complex Building – 1638 Bedford Avenue
[AB1- on the map.]
• Edison O. Jackson Auditorium -1st Floor
• Room L12-1st Floor (Gallery)
• Skylight Café- 2nd Floor (Cafeteria)

Student Services Building -1637 Bedford Avenue
[S- on the map.]
• Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall (Room S122) -1st Floor

Parking in any MEC, CUNY, lots are allowed by “permit only” for Thursday and Friday.
Pre-Registration, On-Site Registration, and Check-In
Thursday, 3/22:

Elementary & High School Students: Founders Auditorium- 1650 Bedford Avenue (buses can park on Maeburn St. at Montgomery St.)- POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

General Public & Participating Speakers: 6 PM, Rotunda, Founders Auditorium- 1650 Bedford Avenue (NEW update.)

Friday 3/23, Saturday3/24, and Sunday 3/25: Rotunda, Founders Auditorium- 1650 Bedford Avenue





*Times subject to adjust based on need.

Note: Registration opens one (1) hour before the first program on each day. Thurs. 3/22/18 has been adjusted to 5:30 PM. 

• If you pre-registered online, please bring your bar-coded confirmation with you to expedite your entry.
• Students, Faculty, and Seniors are required to present identification upon check-in.
• On-site Registration begins on the FIRST DAY of the Conference.
• Registration is required for ALL events, panels, and workshops (talkshops).

14th National Black Writers Conference

Program At-a- Glance

*Program schedule subject to change.              

Day 1 — Thursday, March 22: Community Day

This day of events is Free and Open to the public. Call for Papers Presentations; Youth Day Literacy; Elders Writing Workshop; and Poetry Café (this event is off-site).
RSVP for selected events.

  • Youth Day Literacy Programs – POSTPONED TO LATER DATE
  • Presentation of Conference Papers – RESCHEDULED TO FRI., MARCH 23 FROM 11:30 AM — 1:30 PM IN EDISON O. JACKSON (EOJ) AUDITORIUM @ 1638 BEDFORD AVENUE
  • Tales of Our Times/Elders Writing Workshop – RESCHEDULED TO SAT., MARCH 14 FROM 12:00 PM [noon] — 2:00 PM IN EDISON O. JACKSON (EOJ) AUDITORIUM @ 1638 BEDFORD AVENUE
  • 6:30 PM – Founders Auditorium – 1650 Bedford Avenue, FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, Special Film Presentation by African Voices/Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series – Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/ Feeling Heart, by Tracy Heather Strain
  • “Eighth Annual Poetry Café”: FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Brooklyn Public Library

10 Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Day 2 — Friday, March 23, 2018


10 am – 11:45 am: Fiction workshop
10 am – 11:45 am: Poetry workshop

Film Screening:

10:00 am – Noon: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez – Founders Auditorium
Noon – 12:30 pm: Film Talkback
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon and Janet Goldwater, Moderated by Dr. Brenda Greene
11:30 am — 1:30 pm: Presentation of Conference Papers , Edison O. Jackson (EOJ) Auditorium
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm:  Roundtable Conversation: “Literary Activism in the Post-Obama Era”
2:15 pm – 3:00 pm: BREAK
3:15 pm –4:45 pm: Roundtable Conversation: “The Black Arts Movement: A Foundation for a Literature of Resistance and Activism”, Founders Auditorium
5 pm — 7 pm: Open Mic/ Poetry Slam,  WELCOME CENTER, 1650 Bedford Avenue– Coordinated by MEC Office of Student Life, MEC English Department, Male Empowerment and Development Center/BMI at Medgar Evers College; and cosponsor Curtis Harris, Green Earth Poets Café
6 pm — 8 pm: Sonia Sanchez Reading & Private Reception (Invitation Only)
Akwaaba Mansion
347 MacDonough St.
Brooklyn, NY 11233

Day Three — Saturday, March 24, 2018


10 am – 11:45 am: Fiction
10 am – 11:45 am: Book Proposals; One-on-One Meetings
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm: One-on-One Meetings

10:00 am — 11:30 am: Film Screening & Talkback
12:00 pm (noon) — 2:00 pm: “Tales of Our Times” / Elders Writing Workshop Presentation [Books Available to Purchase.]
11:40 am — 11:45 am: Dance Performance
12: 30 pm — 1:30 pm: BREAK
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm: Roundtable Conversation: “Gathering at the Waters: A Call for Healing”
3:00 pm 4:00 pm: John Oliver Killens Reading Series Presents Author Readings
4:00 pm –5:00 pm: Featured Author Conversation
5:15 pm – 7:00 pm: 2018 NBWC Tribute and Awards Program
7:15 pm – 9:15 pm:  2018 NBWC Benefit Reception
Skylight Café at Medgar Evers College
1638 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Day Four — Sunday, March 25, 2018


10 am – 11:45 am: Book Proposals
10 am – 11:45 am: Independent Publishing
10 am – 11:45 am:  Fiction
1:00 pm — 3:00 pm: One-on-One Sessions

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm: Roundtable Conversation: “The Influence of Race and Politics on Literary Narratives”
3:00 pm 4:30 pm: Panel Discussion: “The State of Publishing for Black Writers”
4:30 — 5:00 pm: Closing Program Featuring poet Cornelius Eady


2018 NBWC Program Sponsors

Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
New York City Council Member Inez Barron, 42nd District
New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, 35th District
Amazon Literary Partnership
Brooklyn Delegation of New York City Council
Capital One
College Language Association’s Black Studies Committee
Con Edison
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
Humanities New York
New-York Historical Society
Personalized Skincare by Marcia
Poets & Writers
YNTS: You Need To Succeed Public Relations


Partners and Supporters (African American Literature Book Club)
Kojo Ade, Kojo Associates
African Voices/Reel Sisters
Akashic Books
Akwaaba Mansion
Allan’s Bakery
Bake & Things
Bartenura Wines
Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA
Brooklyn Literary Council
Brooklyn Printers
Brooklyn Public Library
Cave Canem Foundation
College of Education, Sacramento State University
DJ Larry Boatwright of the Brooklyn Oldtimers Foundation
Edible Arrangements
The Glenda R. Taylor Museum
Golden Krust
Greenlight Bookstore
Green Earth Poets Café
Hachette Book Group
Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & the Caribbean
Wade and Cheryl Hudson, Just Us Books
Kensington Publishing
Library of America
Louise Mirrer, PhD
Mauby Media
Medgar Evers College English Department
Medgar Evers College School of Professional & Community Development
MSF (Magic Soul Food)
National CARES Mentoring Movement
Olivino Wines
Paden Institute
Penguin Random House
Peppas Restaurant
Personalized Skincare by Marcia
Poets & Writers
Publishing in Color
Ishmael Reed Publishing Co.
Shabazz Communications, Inc.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center
The Soul Spot Restaurant
The Strobert Trio
Super Foodtown of Bedford Stuyvesant
Tower Isles
Wearganics Beauty
Weeksville Heritage Center
World Rhythm Academy


Media and Promotional Friends

BK Live/BRIC Arts Media
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
(BAM) Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Brooklyn Reader
Imhotep Gary Byrd
Literary Nation Talk Radio
Mahogany Books
Mosaic Literary Magazine
The Network Journal
Our Time Press
PEN America/Pen World Voices Festival
Poets & Writers
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Spectrum News NY1
Symphony Space
WBAI, 99.5 FM
WBGO, 88.3 FM
WHCR, 90.3 FM
WVIP, 93.5 FM