The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting its 5th Annual Literary Festival on Saturday, June 17.
This year’s theme “Literacy is Generational Wealth” features book talks with Sarah Ladipo Manyika (“Between Starshine and Clay,” “Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun”), Cynthia Manick (“No Sweet Without Brine”), Henry Threadgill (“Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music”) and Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (“Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky”) among others and workshops lead by Hasna Muhammad (“Breathe in the Sky: Poems Prayers & Photographs”) with Harlem Writers Guild and The Moth.

This year, author and historian Claude Johnson (“Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era”) will join the festival for a special conversation presented by PUMA.

Mahogany L. Browne (“Chlorine Sky,” “Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice,” “Woke Baby,” and “Black Girl Magic”) will open the 135th Street stages with her curated Woke Baby Children’s Festival featuring children’s readings, live music, and craft-making.
The community-wide celebration will also feature storytelling workshops, a marketplace of local vendors and organizations, a New York Public Library mobile library, and programs for all ages.

“Festivals are all the more important nowadays since bookstores are practically nonexistent,” Boyd commented while confirming his attendance this weekend. “And the few bookstores that are within reach rarely have guest appearances for authors. A similar disappearance occurs with many festivals even when you are lucky enough to have an invitation or the cost to get there and register for a table.

Drummer at the Schomburg Center Literary Festival (NYPL photo)
Author Jacqueline Woodson (NYPL photo) Credit: NYPL photo

“Conditions such as these make the Schomburg Literary Festival all the more indispensable and accessible. It’s good to know that several colleges have occasional conferences where authors are panelists and have their books available for sale. Online Zooms and other social media platforms provide a minimum relief but getting autographed books to viewers is not an easy endeavor.”

“This year, we are thinking about the legacy of literacy,” said Novella Ford, associate director of public programs and exhibitions. “We are honoring the importance of passing down books, positive ideas about reading, and continuing to be bold in our choices at a time when the currents are pushing against the freedom to read and the invaluable service of public libraries. This festival is a celebration of readers and writers across genres and generations.”

Traditionally held on Juneteenth weekend, the Schomburg Center Literary Festival is held both outdoors and throughout the historic research library in Harlem, featuring discussions, workshops, and book signings with established and emerging writers across the Black diaspora.

NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS @ The Literary Festival

The New York Aficionperu will have a booth at this year’s Schomburg Literary Festival. Veteran AmNews journalist Herb Boyd will make an appearance under the newspapers tent in the vendor’s marketplace.

The festival takes place on Juneteenth weekend in honor of the holiday that commemorates the day news of emancipation was finally delivered to enslaved Black people in Texas on June 19, 1865—2 years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. with the keynote conversation featuring Sarah Ladipo Manyika discussing “Between Starshine and Clay: Conversations from the African Diaspora,” and exploring Black thinkers of our times, including Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka, and former First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival (NYPL photo)
Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five (left) and poet Abiodun Oyewole (NYPL photo) Credit: NYPL photo

This year’s artwork “Generational Wealth” is produced by multidisciplinary artist Ernest A. Ford.

Programs will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on four stages inside the Schomburg Center and outdoors on 135th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard. Author readings, panel discussions, and workshops will range from prose to poetry, comic books to young adult novels, fiction, and nonfiction. The festival is free, public, and open to all ages. See the full schedule at schomburgcenterlitfest.org.

The 2023 Schomburg Center Literary Festival is powered by Puma. Major support is provided by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.
The Schomburg Center Literary Festival is part of the New York Public Library’s “Summer at the Library” initiative, which launched June 5th and offers kids, teens, and their families a series of free programs at its 92 locations to spark a lifelong love of reading and learning, and help students combat the “summer slide”—when they forget what they learned in the summer months while outside the classroom. A full list of free programs and offerings can be found at nypl.org/summer.

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