Last week’s snowstorm delayed some of the events planned for the 14th Annual National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College, but it couldn’t put a damper on the conference’s energy.
Despite the midweek nor’easter that delayed its opening events, the National Black Writers Conference, scheduled for March 22 to 25 at Medgar Evers College, made a revival on Day 2. The conference, which was themed ‘Gathering at the Waters: Healing, Legacy and Activism in Black Literature,’ drew out black literature writers and enthusiasts from all over the country to workshop, discuss and connect with each other over the weekend.
The second day of the four-day conference began with fiction and poetry ‘talkshops’ for writers and continued with a screening of ‘BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez,’ a documentary which celebrates the life and works of activist and living literary legend Sonia Sanchez.
Later, conference attendees settled into the college’s Founders Auditorium for an afternoon of serious, but lively panel discussions. First, civil rights attorney Gloria J. Browne Marshall, journalist Bakari Kitwana and moderator Wallace Ford tackled the meaning of ‘Literary Activism in the Post-Obama Era.’ Then Sonia Sanchez, artist and activist Michael Simanga, Howard University’s Afro-American Studies Chair Greg Carr and moderator Evie Shockley took a look back in time at the Black Arts movement of the 1960s, enlightening the audience with the movement’s lessons of resistance and activism.
The panelists expressed that the Black Arts movement was about taking a stand despite the risks, whether that meant losing one’s chance at a tenure position at a prestigious university or upsetting concerned family members. But while writers and activists should remember the lessons of the artists of the Black Arts movement, Sanchez advised the audience that they needn’t try to replicate the movement. “You need to build on what people did,” she said.
According to author M.W. Bennett, who has returned to the conference for the third year, pearls of wisdom like these are to be expected. “[First-time conference attendees] can expect enlightenment as far as the side of business and the side of writing,” he said. “They can expect to be encouraged and to be inspired, to meet people, to network with people in the business and if they keep their minds open, they’re going to have fun.”
Take a look at more moments from Day 2 of the National Black Writers Conference below.