Day 2: Friday, March 23rd, 2018

14th National Black Writers Conference

Gathering at the Waters:

Healing, Legacy, and Activism in Black Literature


Note: Program participants and schedule are subject to change.

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2018 National Black Writers Conference Schedule
Planned Programming (as of February 2018)


Day 2: Friday, March 23rd, 2018

EMCEE: Patrick Oliver

Writing Talkshops:

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Fiction with Victor LaValle

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Poetry with Keisha Gaye-Anderson

Film Screening:

10:00 AM – Noon: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

A documentary film about Sonia Sanchez, poet, activist and pioneer emerged as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, raising her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women’s liberation, and peace as a poet, playwright, teacher, activist and early champion of the spoken word. Deemed “A lion in literature’s forest” by poet Maya Angelou and winner of major literary awards, Sonia Sanchez is best known for 17 books of poetry that explore a wide range of global and humanist themes, particularly the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color. In BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sanchez’s life unfolds in a documentary rich with readings and jazz-accompanied performances of her work.

Noon – 12:30 PM: Film Talkback: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon and Dr. Brenda Greene

11: 30 AM — 1:30 PM: Presentation of Conference Papers in Edison O. Jackson Auditorium @ 1638 Bedford Avenue

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM: BREAK

1:30 PM 3:00 PM: Roundtable Conversation, “Literary Activism in the Post-Obama Era”

Panelists will explore the following questions: How does hip-hop culture and the Black Lives Matter Movement provide a means to explore activism and resistance in the literature of Black writers in the post-Obama era? How have representations of race, ethnicity, resistance and activism in the Black literary tradition evolved and shifted during the Post-Obama era?

Moderator: Wallace Ford

Panelists:  Bakari Kitwana


Wallace Ford is principal and founder of Fordworks Associates Inc., a management consulting and advisory firm based in New York.  He is also the author of two published novels (The Pride and What You Sow) and the creator and author of the Point of View contemporary commentary blog –  – the columns from which will soon be published as a book. Mr. Ford is also the host of “The Inclusion Show with Wallace Ford,” an online video program– . He is also a frequent guest host and commentator on political events and business issues on Arise TV –  and a contributor to Black Noire Renaissance literary magazine.

Bakari Kitwana is a journalist, activist and political analyst whose commentary on politics and youth culture have been seen on the CNN, FOX News, C-SPAN, PBS, and heard on NPR. He’s currently Senior Media Fellow at the Harvard Law-based think tank The Jamestown Project, and the CEO of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop, which conducts town hall meetings around the country on difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop generation. He is the author of Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era: Interviews and Essays is forthcoming from Third World Press.

3:15 PM –4:45 PM: Roundtable Conversation, “The Black Arts Movement: A Foundation for a Literature of Resistance and Activism”

The Black Arts Movement represents an electrifying period in American letters. The scholars on this panel have edited SOS—Calling All Black People (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014), works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics and gender. Questions to explore are: How has the literature of the Black Arts Movement provided a foundation for the discussion of race, resistance and activism in the literature of contemporary Black writers? How have representations of race, ethnicity, resistance and activism in the Black Arts Movement evolved and shifted since 1960?

Moderator: Evie Shockley

Panelists: Sonia Sanchez, Michael Simanga, and Greg Carr


Evie Shockley is the author of three books of poetry, most recently semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017) and the new black (Wesleyan, 2011; winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry).  She has also published a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa, 2011).  Currently serving as creative writing editor for Feminist Studies, Shockley is associate professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Greg Carr is associate professor of Africana Studies and Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and Adjunct Faculty at the Howard School of Law.

Dr. Carr’s publications have appeared in, among other places, The African American Studies ReaderSocialism and Democracy, Africana Studies, Publications of the Modern Language Association of AmericaThe National Urban League’s 2012 State of Black America and Malcolm X: A Historical Reader. Dr. Carr is a frequent commentator in a wide range of print and electronic media as well as a range of local radio, television, and cybermedia outlets. Dr. Carr blogs at and can be reached in social media on Twitter at @AfricanaCarr

Sonia Sanchez—poet, activist, scholar—was the Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University. She is the recipient of both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. One of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez is the author of sixteen books.

Dr. Michael Simanga is an activist cultural worker, artist and scholar in African-American art and culture as expression of identity, forms of resistance and transformation. He is a lecturer at Georgia State University and has written, edited and published fiction, poetry, drama, essays and memoir about the African American experience. Dr. Simanga has also produced, presented and directed more than 200 artistic projects including plays, exhibitions, concerts, readings and festivals. He has also produced music with Cassandra Wilson, Sonia Sanchez and others.

5:30 PM – 9:30 PM: Opening Reception – By Invitation Only.

Author Reading with Sonia Sanchez and Opening Reception

Akwaaba Mansion
347 MacDonough St.
Brooklyn, NY 11233

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Open Mic – Coordinated by Darrel Holnes, English Department, and Amani Reece, Office of Student Life, Medgar Evers College, CUNY