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National Black Writers Conference: March 26 – 29, 2020

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AND PLANNING PURPOSES

Monday, January 6, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS: April R. Silver and Lea Byrd for the
Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

pr@akilaworksongs.com or lea@akilaworksongs.com
(718) 756-8501 office · (646) 522-4169 mobile

 

A BOLD FOCUS: THE 15th NATIONAL BLACK WRITERS CONFERENCE RETURNS TO BROOKLYN TO EXPLORE THE INTERSECTIONS OF BLACK THEATER, FILM, CULTURE, AND INDUSTRY

STANLEY NELSON, DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU, RADHA BLANK, LIZA JESSIE PETERSON, WOODIE KING JR., CARL CLAY, VOZA RIVERS, RICHARD WELSEY, TALIB KWELI, JESSICA CARE MOORE, AND MANY OTHERS CONFIRMED.

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BROOKLYN, NY - - The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CBL) announced today that the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC) will be held Thursday, March 26, 2020 – Sunday, March 29, 2020 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. This year’s theme is a new focus that boldly affirms and celebrates the ways that Black playwrights and Black screenwriters expand society’s understanding of Black life and the human experience in general. The four-day national gathering will serve as a platform for this specific community to explore the challenges, rewards, and impact of working within the Black film and theater industries.

The conference will bring together writers, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film giants, students, and other literature enthusiasts far and near. Over the years, NBWC, founded in 1986, has attracted national and international audiences from states such as Georgia, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia; and from countries in the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Its roundtable conversations, panel discussions, and town halls are known for their informative and often spirited content.

Also, the conference will feature the highly anticipated NBWC Awards and Tribute program. The 2020 honorees are Carl Clay, Dominique Morisseau, Stanley Nelson, Voza Rivers, and Richard Wesley (see bios and more information online). For general information, program details, and more, contact the CBL office at (718) 804-8883 or send an email to writers@mec.cuny.edu.

THE BACKGROUND and THEME FOR NBWC2020

The 2020 theme for the 15th National Black Writers Conference is Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads.

Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the writing and works by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. These writers, so often at a crossroads, are focused on breaking new ground; creating bold new work in theater, film, and television; and expanding the narrative of the Black experience in America and throughout the African Diaspora. During NBWC2020, panelists and special guests will examine the ways race, identity, politics, and popular culture shape plays, films, and television shows produced.

Professor of English and NBWC Director Dr. Brenda M. Greene offers this insight: “Black screenwriters and playwrights are changing the ‘master narratives’ in Black theater and film. In a culture that is driven and shaped by race, class, politics and the media, they are the documentarians, creative writers, and artists who are providing a black gaze and a critical lens from which to view the lives of Black people. They are debunking stereotypes, uncovering assumptions, and making visible what has been invisible and silenced. They are raising the consciousness of our nation by using their pens as instruments to critique the social and political climate in our nation. This conference will provide a way to create community conversations that will engage Black playwrights, screenwriters, literary professionals and the public in discussions on new directions and the evolving narratives in Black film and theater.” Dr. Greene is also the founder and executive director of the Center for Black Literature (founded at Medgar Evers College in 2002).

 

The idea to focus on Black screenwriters and playwrights was that of April R. Silver, cultural arts advocate and communications consultant. As the presenting partner for this year’s gathering, she explains, Truthfully, the Black Panther film prompted all of this. After experiencing the phenomenal impact that it had on the hearts and minds of people all over the world, I felt compelled to talk with Dr. Greene. I had envisioned CBL helping to unpack what we were experiencing from the film: a reminder of what it feels like to be free. Enslavement and oppressive realities have been put upon us for hundreds of years, but at our core we are free human beings. Our artists, those with unchained spirits, know this. Those artists who write the plays and novels and poems and scripts remind us to reclaim our birthright to be free human beings, no matter what. And to be clear, the community wouldn’t have the opportunity to highlight these playwrights and screenwriters were it not for Dr. Greene’s understanding and appreciation of our need to write the plays and films that communicate these truths.”

Each day will feature a variety of film screenings, panel discussions, author readings and workshops. Below is schedule of confirmed activities and participants. More details (including time, location, updated participants and their bios) will be housed online at www.centerforblackliterature.org.

NBWC2020 SPONSORS AND PARTNERS

§  AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club)

§  African Voices/Reel Sisters

§  Akashic Books

§  AKILA WORKSONGS / AKILA Unlimited

§  Amazon Literary Partnership

§  Brooklyn Academy of Music

§  Brooklyn Literary Council

§  Brooklyn Public Library

§  ConEdison

§  CUNY Office of Collaborative Programs

§  Humanities New York

§  Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & the Caribbean

§  Just Us Books Inc.

§  Medgar Evers College English Department

§  Medgar Evers College School of Professional & Community Development

§  Mosaic Literary Magazine

§  New York City Council Brooklyn Delegation

§  New-York Historical Society

§  Office of City Council Member Inez Barron

§  Office of City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

§  Personalized Skincare by Marcia

§  Poets & Writers

§  Shabazz Communications, Inc.

§  Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center

THE MISSION OF THE CENTER FOR BLACK LITERATURE

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. 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 readings and book signings, writing workshops, panel discussions, conferences and symposia. It is the only center devoted to this in the country.

 

PRE-CONFERENCE PROGRAM

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2020

John Oliver Killens Reading Series Program

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College (pending) **

Black Divas on Stage: Challenges of Women Playwrights with invited speakers Elizabeth Van Dyke, Lizan Mitchell, Ebony Jo-Ann, and Trazana Beverly. | Curated and Moderated by MARCIA PENDELTON of Walk Tall Girl Productions.


TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020

NBWC Poetry Slam

Time: TBA

Welcome Center at Medgar Evers College **

Curated by GREEN EARTH POETS CAFÉ


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020

Youth Day Literary Program

n 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Elementary school literary program coordinated by WADE and CHERYL HUDSON of Just Us Books.

n 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

High school literary program coordinated by KEL SPENCER, Program Director, R.O.L.L., Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College.

n 1:00 PM– 3:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Creative writing workshops with LIZA JESSIE PETERSON and NSANGOU NJIKAM

n 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Film Screening and Talkback

The Hate U Give (RT 2 hours 13 minutes) is a 2018 American drama film directed George Tillman Jr. with a screenplay by Audrey Wells. It is based on the 2017 young adult novel (of the same name) by Angie Thomas. | Curated by MILES McAFEE, Communications Specialist, School of Professional and Community Development, Medgar Evers College. Click HERE to watch the official film trailer.

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020

Presentation of Conference Papers

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Scholars and writers discuss works of honorees and featured speakers who have had their work developed into dramatic plays, screenplays, and documentaries.

 

 

Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop Presentation

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium (EOJ) at Medgar Evers College **

Members of the Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop will present readings on the theme called "Home Remedies" and will travel the African diaspora with sharp, funny memories of poultices, powders, and potions created to maintain wellness in our diverse Black communities. They see this as resistance to gentrification (now kale is cool), big pharma, and, of course, to the racism that physically manifests in the form of disease when we aren't vigilant about strengthening our physical selves. Curated by EISA ULEN RICHARDSON, Workshop Instructor, Center for Black Literature. Pictured: Members of the Dr. Edith Rock Elders Writing Workshop present at a previous NBWC event at MEC.

 

 

NBWC Poetry Café

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Dweck Cultural Center at Central Brooklyn Public Library **

Curated by WENDY ROBINSON and TAI ALLEN


FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020

Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Playwriting Workshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College

Rooms and Workshop Leaders: TBA

Confirmed Workshop Leader: LIZA JESSIE PETERSON (playwriting)

 

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM (continued)

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020 (continued)

TOWN HALL

The Role of the Media, Critics, and Reviewers on Black Plays and Film

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Presented as a Community Conversation, the town hall will examine the role of the media, critics, and reviewers in (1) shaping the writing of playwrights and screenwriters and (2) in bringing the dramatic play to the stage and the screenplay to the screen.

The conversation will include emerging and seasoned panelists whose work is impacted by professional critics and the media-at-large. Also, audience members will be encouraged to provide their views on the subject and suggest ways for moving forward. Confirmed Speakers: Lisa Cortés, Vincent Cunningham, David Greaves, Pamela Newkirk, and Marcia Pendelton. | Confirmed Moderator: BRIDGETT M. DAVIS | Sponsored by Our Time Press

ROUNDTABLE

The Impact of Hip-Hop and Popular Culture on Black Playwriting and Screenwriting

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Panelists will examine how hip-hop and popular culture has influenced and shaped the plays, films, and television scripts created by Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters. They will also look at trends in experimental theater and independent films by Black playwrights and screenwriters. Confirmed Speakers: Dasan Ahanu, Radha Blank (pictured), Shaun Neblett, NSangou Njikam, and Carl Hancock Rux. | Confirmed Moderator: SADE LYTHCOTT

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM (continued)

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020 (continued)

ROUNDTABLE

Telling Our Stories: Transcending Barriers and Boundaries on Stage and Screen

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Artists and writers interrogate their interior lives and collective experiences to document their stories in a country where racism, sexual violence, gender discrimination, alienation, miseducation, immigration, and cultural conflicts are very present. The speakers here will explore these issues in theater, film, and television. Confirmed Speakers: Donja R. Love, Amina Henry, Nina Angela Mercer, and H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams. | Confirmed Moderator: DARREL HOLNES

Dramatic Presentations

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

n 5:00 PM - 5:30 PM: ALEXIS ALLEYNE-CAPUTO, interdisciplinary artist, writer, and filmmaker.

n 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM: TRACIE MORRIS, poet, educator, and performance artist.

Conference Opening Ceremony

Friday, March 27, 2020 | 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

The official opening of the 15th National Black Writers Conference will feature a robust conversation with Ngozi Anyanwu, Stanley Nelson, Woodie King Jr. (pictured), and Voza Rivers. | Confirmed Moderator: NINA ANGELA MERCER. Hosted by LURIE DANIEL-FAVORS 

 


SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020

Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, Playwriting Workshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College

Rooms and workshop leaders TBA

 

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM (continued)

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020 (continued)

Short Film Screenings and Talkback

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Curated by IMAGENATION

Defying Stereotypes: Writing Plays, Films, and Scripts from the Black Gaze

1:00 PM 2:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Panelists will explore the manner in which Black playwrights, screenwriters, and scriptwriters provide the Black gaze in the works they create. They will also examine the importance of writing stories and plays that depict the full spectrum of the Black community and experiences; the importance of resisting stereotypes and creating complex characters to reveal our interior lives; and how gender and identity politics impact the works that are created for the stage, film, and television. Confirmed Panelists: Sandra Shannon, Shay Youngblood, Eisa Davis, and B. Nandi Jacob. | Confirmed Moderator: WALLACE L. FORD II

 

ROUNDTABLE

The Playwright and Screenwriter as Activist

2:45 PM – 4:00 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

Addressing racial and other social justice issues in plays and films, the panelists of this roundtable discussion will examine how today’s climate influences character, plot, and viewpoint in the works they create. | Confirmed Speakers: Keith Josef Adkins, Ngozi Anyanwu, Kia Corthron, and Antoinette Nwandu. Confirmed Moderator: ADESOLA OSAKALUMI

 

 

ROUNDTABLE

Black Theater and Film: Looking Back, Moving Forward

“Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Knowledge, Social Justice, and Excellence” at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

4:15 PM – 5:30 PM

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

This panel is in “Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Knowledge, Social Justice, and Excellence” at Medgar Evers College. Panelists take a look at current and future trends in plays, screenplays, and scripts written by Black writers and address the question: Do we need more complex and nuanced stories in theater, television, and film? They also discuss the importance of diversifying the film and theater industry and ways to inspire the next generation of writers and filmmakers. Confirmed Speakers: Carl Clay, Aurin Squire (pictured), Elizabeth Van Dyke, and Richard Wesley. | Confirmed Moderator: SANDRA ADELL

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM (continued)

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020 (continued)

NBWC Awards and Tribute Program

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Founders Auditorium at Medgar Evers College **

n A Tribute to Toni Morrison by Sandra Guzman, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and author.

n Presentations by 15th NBWC Honorees Carl Clay, Dominique Morisseau, Stanley Nelson, Voza Rivers, and Richard Wesley.

n Hosted by ANTOINETTE ROBERSON

 


SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2020

Screenwriting, Playwriting, Fiction, and Poetry Workshops

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Medgar Evers College

Rooms and Workshop Leaders: TBA

 

NBWC Film Festival

12:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: TBA

Curated and coordinated by AFRICAN VOICES/REEL SISTERS OF THE DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL

 

MAIN CONFERENCE PROGRAM (continued)

As of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 *

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2020 (continued)

CLOSING PROGRAM

For the Culture

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Venue: TBA

A stellar roster of hip-hop, spoken word, and performance artists will examine films and plays from sociocultural, political, and global perspectives. Also, they’ll discuss the intersections of activism, identity, race, and art in theater and film. Confirmed Speakers: Talib Kweli and jessica Care moore. | Confirmed Moderator: APRIL R. SILVER

 

 

ENGAGE WITH US ž CONTACT US

 

CBL DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTORY

• Email Newsletter Sign-Up: www.centerforblackliterature.org

• CBL Facebook: @CenterForBlackLiterature

• NBWC Facebook: @NationalBlackWritersConference

• Twitter: @Center4BlackLit

• Instagram: @Center4BlackLit

• YouTube: @CenterForBlackLiteratureMedgarEversCollege

 

 

 

FOR REGISTRATION INFORMATION, PARTICIPANTS’ BIOS, VENDING AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES, AND MORE:

www.CenterForBlackLiterature.org | (718) 804-8883 | writers@mec.cuny.edu

 

 

 

Request for interviews and other media inquiries are directed to April R. Silver

or Lea Byrd at AKILA WORKSONGS: pr@akilaworksongs.com or (718) 756-8501


* Program topics, participants, dates, and times are subject to change.

** VENUE LEGEND:

n Founders Auditorium and the Welcome Center are located at 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

n Dweck Auditorium at Center Brooklyn Library is located at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY.

n Edison O. Jackson Auditorium (EOJ) at Medgar Evers College is located at 1638 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (across the street from the main building).

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