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National Black Writers Conference: November 11 – 14, 2020


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MEDIA CONTACTS: April R. Silver and Lea Byrd for the

Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

pr@akilaworksongs.com | lea@akilaworksongs.com

(718) 756-8501 (office) | (917) 319-5449 (mobile)




Dominique Morisseau, Woodie King Jr., Carl Clay, Voza Rivers, Stanley Nelson, Richard Wesley, Talib Kweli, jessica CARE moore, and others



Brooklyn, New York --- The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CBL) and presenting partner AKILA WORKSONGS announced that the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2020) will be held virtually, from Wednesday, November 11 to Saturday, November 14, 2020. The Conference was rescheduled from its annually-held Spring dates because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ever so timely, this year’s theme, Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads, is a new focus for the Conference that boldly affirms and celebrates the ways that Black playwrights and screenwriters expand society’s understanding of Black life and the human experience. CBL will also honor luminaries Carl Clay, Dominique Morisseau, Stanley Nelson, Voza Rivers, and Richard Wesley during its virtual NBWC Awards and Tribute Program on Saturday, November 14, 2020.


Other Conference highlights include roundtable conversations, panel discussions, a town hall, film screenings, author readings, writing and playwrighting talkshops, a local vendor marketplace and much more. The four-day virtual gathering will bring together students, writers, artists, activists, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film giants and other literature enthusiasts from near and far. The aim is to explore the challenges, rewards and impact of working within the Black film and theater industries. Discussions will examine the ways that race, identity, politics and popular culture shape the production of plays, films and television shows.


Over the years, NBWC has attracted national and international audiences from states such as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia; and from file:///C:/Users/troy/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.jpgcountries in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Its roundtables, panels and town halls are known for their informative and high-spirited content.





Over the last decade, there has been 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.


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.”


The idea to focus on Black screenwriters and playwrights was that of April R. Silver, head of the presenting partner entity AKILA WORKSONGS. 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, novels, poems and scripts remind us to reclaim our birthright to be free human beings, no matter what. And to be clear, the community would not have the opportunity to highlight these playwrights and screenwriters if it was 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, workshops and more. More details, including time, location, updated participants and participant biographies, are located online at www.centerforblackliterature.org.











§  African American Literature Book Club (AALBC.com)

§  African Voices/Reel Sisters

§  Amazon Literary Partnership

§  BK Reader

§  Brooklyn Literary Council

§  Brooklyn Public Library

§  Cave Canem Foundation

§  Community Council for Medgar Evers College

§  ConEdison

§  CUNY Office of Collaborative Programs

§  GR Taylor Media, Inc.

§  ImageNation Sōl Cinema Café

§  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 and Community Development

§  New York City Council Brooklyn Delegation

§  New-York Historical Society

§  Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

§  Office of City Council Member Inez Barron, 42nd District

§  Office of City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, 35th District

§  Personalized Skincare by Marcia

§  Poets & Writers

§  RestorationART at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp.

§  Samuel French, A Concord Theatrical Company

§  Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

§  Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center


AKILA WORKSONGS is the presenting partner for the 15th National Black Writers Conference.



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.



For additional information and registration details, contact CBL at (718) 804-8883 or via email: writers@mec.cuny.edu. Request for interviews are directed to April R. Silver or Lea Byrd at pr@akilaworksongs.com, or (718) 756-8501 (office), or @akilaworksongs (Twitter).



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