March 2015 – Press Release- National Black Writers Conference 2015 Biennial Symposium “Voices of Liberation and Resistance and a Tribute to Actor and Activist Danny Glover”

For Immediate Release

Contact Info:
Clarence V. Reynolds
Center for Black Literature

Maeshay Lewis
Center for Black Literature


Registration for the National Black Writers Conference 2015 Biennial Symposium

PDF Version: Press Release_2015_NBWC_Bienniel_PressReleaseProgram_24MarchFinal

PDF Version: Press Release_2015_NBWC_Bienniel_Press_Release Final_1-29-2015

PDF Version of Program Booklet: Program Booklet_NBWC 2015BIENNIAL_Voices of Liberation


National Black Writers Conference 2015 Biennial Symposium
“Voices of Liberation and Resistance and a Tribute
to Actor and Activist Danny Glover”


The rich tradition of literary activism among Black writers dates back to the work of Phillis Wheatley, the first recognized African-American poet in American literature; and it is represented in the works of iconic writers such as Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, and Langston Hughes among many others. This tradition has continued to the present and includes the fiction, poetry and prose produced by Black writers during the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. Focusing on activism, liberation, and resistance in literature and the arts, the 2015 National Black Writers Conference “Voices of Liberation and Resistance” will be held March 28, 2015; 10:-00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on the campus Medgar Evers College (1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225).

During the program, there will also be a special tribute to the work of actor and activist Danny Glover.

Focusing on activism, liberation, and resistance in the arts, the 2015 NBWC Biennial Symposium explores this subject from different perspectives and offers an intergenerational perspective on the legacy of resistance and activism in the arts, with a special emphasis on how novelists, poets, playwrights, and screenwriters have addressed these themes through their work and through the roles they play. “There is a proverb that as long as we tell the stories of our ancestors and repeat their names, we keep them alive.  We have to create venues and forums that enable us to keep the legacy, experiences and stories of those who came before us alive.  And we have to ensure that the present generation understands the basis for carrying forward this tradition and is poised to do so.  Through exploring the legacy of activism and resistance from varying perspectives, the 2015 NBWC can help to make this happen,” says, Dr. Brenda Greene, Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature.

As the 2015 NBWC Biennial Symposium will focus on the subject of activism, liberation, and resistance in the arts, with a special focus on film and literature, the program will honor Danny Glover. Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Glover has dedicated himself to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity, and he has a record of addressing issues of economic development and poverty in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. We applaud his legacy of paving the way for Black actors and filmmakers to create a presence in the film industry and of supporting a tradition of social consciousness and resistance among fellow artists and writers.

The goal of the 2015 NBWC Biennial Symposium is to bring together an intergenerational group of writers and artists from various genres and include Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Bridgett M. Davis, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Jamal Joseph, Haki Madhubuti, Kevin Powell, Sapphire, Askia Touré, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Through panel discussions, readings, and a film presentation, the participants will engage the public in deep discussions of the legacy of activism and its impact on contemporary writers and artists and will examine the ways in which writers and artists use their work to raise public awareness of these issues.

About the Program

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic who writes about culture, politics, and social issues, will lay a foundation for the discussion. Coates’ discussion will be followed by a viewing of the film The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, which is compiled from the footage of Swedish journalist Goran Hugo Olsson.  The film samples very powerful voices from the 1960s and 1970s and injects contemporary commentary from older people who were involved with the movement and younger people (including Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, and Questlove [Amir Khalib Thompson] from The Roots) whose lives were changed by it. Kevin Powell, author of books on politics, culture and literature, and Jamal Joseph, writer, director, producer, poet, activist, and educator, will provide a critical response to the film; the audience will then participate in a Q and A with Powell and Joseph. The post-discussion will be followed by a panel of writers whose work examines the intersection of literature, politics, culture and activism. Panelists include writers Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr and Askia Touré from the Black Arts Movement, novelist and educator Bridgett M. Davis, and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. Following the discussion will be select readings representing voices of liberation and resistance: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, Sapphire, and Thomas Sayers Ellis. The program will close with a keynote by the cultural and sociopolitical actor, activist, humanitarian, and producer Danny Glover.

About the National Black Writers Conference

Biennial Symposium

The National Black Writers Conference is hosted every two years by the Center for Black Literature and our NBWC Biennial Symposium is hosted on alternate years. The symposium honors the life and work of a specific writer or artist. In the past, we have paid tribute to Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, August Wilson, John Oliver Killens, and Bob Marley. We believe strongly in educating the general public and students about the contributions of Black artists throughout the African diaspora. This work greatly ensures that our students will study and gain knowledge of the contributions of writers and artists. We are pleased this year that our symposium theme is “Voices of Liberation and Resistance” and that we will have panel discussions, readings and a film discussion on the topics of literature, the arts, and activism. The 2015 NBWC Biennial Symposium will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015.


About the Center for Black Literature

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. 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.