"The Impact of Migration, Popular Culture, and 
the Natural Environment in the Literature of Black Writers”

Thursday, March 29 – Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to migration, cultural memory, popular culture, and the natural environment.

Honorary Chair

Myrlie Evers-Williams

2012 NBWC Honorees

Ishmael Reed – John Oliver Killens Lifetime Achievement Award

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – W. E. B. Du Bois Award

Nikki Giovanni – Gwendolyn Brooks Award

Dr. Howard Dodson – Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award

Thursday, March 29

Friday, March 30

Saturday, March 31

Sunday, April 1

Key to Locations:


Bedford Building - 1650 Bedford Avenue
[B- Building on the map.]

  • Founders Auditorium -1st Floor
  • President’s Conference Center(Room B1008) -1st Floor
  • N. B. Johnson Lecture Hall (Room B2008) 2nd Floor
  • Rotunda / Ticket booth– 1st Floor in front of Founders Auditorium

Academic Complex Building - 1638 Bedford Avenue

[AB1- on the map.]

  • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium -1st Floor
  • Room L11-1st Floor 
  • Skylight Café- 2nd Floor (Cafeteria)

Student Services Building - 1637 Bedford Avenue

[S- on the map.]>

  • Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall (Room S122) -1st Floor
  • Atrium - 3rd Floor
  • Conference Room>3rd Floor

Room numbers beginning with “CP” indicates the Carroll St. Portable Buildings -1150 Carroll St. [‘C’ on the map.]

Parking in any MEC, CUNY lots are allowed by “permit only” for Thursday and Friday.

Pre-Registration, On-Site Registration, and Check-In

Location: Rotunda, Medgar Evers College







9 AM

10 AM

9:30 AM

9:30 AM


4:30 PM

8 PM

8 PM

4 PM

*Times subject to adjust based on need.

  • If you pre-registered on-line, please bring your bar coded confirmation with you to expedite your entry
  • Students, Faculty, and Seniors are required to present identification upon check-in.
  • On-site Registration begins on the first day of the Conference
  • Registration is required for ALL events, panels and workshops.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

9:30 a.m. ­– noon

Elementary School Program

Coordinated by Just Us Books



Founders Auditorium (Bedford Building)

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Welcome, Introduction of Just Us Books Giveaway Contest 

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Presentation, Zetta Elliot
10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.   Giveaway Contest
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Presentation, Jerry Craft
11:45 a.m. – noon   Giveaway Contest, Closing 

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

High School Program

Coordinated by Nina Mercer


Founders Auditorium (Bedford Building)

Presentations by Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Tony Medina, and other poets.

10 a.m. ­– 12 p.m.

Middle School Workshop: Session 1

Workshop coordinated by Gregory Walker



Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall, Room S122

Medgar Evers College, Student Services Building (S Building)

10 a.m. ­– 12 p.m>

High School Workshop: Session 2

Workshop coordinated by PEN American Center


Room(s): TBD

Medgar Evers College

Presentation of Papers

10:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.


Edison O. Jackson Auditorium

Academic Complex Building (AB 1)

Faculty, independent researchers, and students present papers that examine the representation of history and memory in the works of one of the following honorees: Ishmael Reed, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Nikki Giovanni.

Papers will also be presented on John Oliver Killens.

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Post Modern Cultural Conflict and Satire in Selected Works by Ishmael Reed

Jimmy Cheffen: “Satire, Reed and Me”

Katherine Hazzard:  “Spoiled by New York: Ishmael Reed’s Representation of Travel”

Lavelle Porter: “Black(ness) No More: Academia and the Culture Wars in Ishmael Reed’s Japanese by Spring”

11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Reconstructing History and Memory Through the Works of John Oliver Killens and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Oladipo Kehinde Paul: “The Impact of Migration, Popular Culture and the Natural Environment in the Literature of Black Writers”

Carlyle Van Thompson: “The Past Is Infinite: Reconstructing History and Memory in John Oliver Killens’s Youngblood.”

1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

The Life and Impact of Nikki Giovanni

Terry Cole: “Nikki Giovanni as a Mythographer”

Susan Watson Turner: “The Fire Inside: The Story and Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”

Lynette Velasco: “African-American Children’s Literature—Embracing the Majesty of Nikki Giovanni”

2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

The Life and Impact of Nikki Giovanni

Theatrical presentation by Susan Watson Turner: “The Fire Inside: The Story and Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”

4:00 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Elders Writing Workshop

Elders Writers Workshop Presentation, in partnership with Siloam Presbyterian Church Sponsored by Poets & Writers

Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

Off-Site Event

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m

NBWC Poetry Café


Brooklyn Public Library

10 Grand Army Plaza

Host: Tai Allen

Free and Open to the Public

Featuring poets Aracelis Girmay, Tony Medina, Patricia Smith, as well as emerging and established poets.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Films Celebrating Activism in Black Literature

11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sponsored by the NBWC and African Voices

Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
1650 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11225

11:15  a.m

The Life and Times of Little Jimmy B

Director:  Alison McDonald

Synopsis: This film is a portrait of a young Black writer isolated in the God-fearing ghetto of Depression era Harlem. Rejected by his mother and his best friend, Jimmy seeks refuge in his relationship with Glenda, a prostitute. Herself a lost soul, she cannot comfort or console him but offers him something he’s never had before—acceptance. 

11:35 a.m.

I Leave My Colors Everywhere

Directors: Tami Ravid    Producer: Julia de Boer

Synopsis:The film follows the work of a female poet living in Amsterdam who uses her poems to speak out on sexual violence against women, racism, and other injustices.


1:10 p.m.

Sonia Sanchez: Shake Loose Memories

Directors: Jamal Joseph, Rachel Watanabe-Batton

Producers: Voza Rivers, Jamal Joseph, and Rachel Watanabe-Batton

Synopsis: A musical and poetic journey through the life, art, and activism of Sonia Sanchez. Sanchez is a poetry icon, professor emeritus at Temple University, cofounder of the Black Arts Movement, pioneer of the Black Studies Program at San Francisco State, and a tireless fighter for human rights. She is a stuttering child from Alabama, abused stepdaughter from Harlem, single mother struggling to raise her children, artist and revolutionary battling oppression on all fronts.  Sanchez’s poetry, performance, and reflections are weaved together to create a moving “cine poem.” Featuring performances of her works by Amiri Baraka, Oscar Brown Jr., T.C. Carson, and Toshi Reagon.

2:15 p.m.

Panel Discussion and Q & A

Poets Sonia Sanchez, Ekere Tallie, filmmaker Alison McDonald, and author/filmmaker Jamal Joseph will participate in a conversation on the history of activism in Black literature and a discussion on the films presented. Maitefa Angaza, the managing editor of African Voices and c0producer of the film In Our Heads About Our Hair, will moderate.

Readings, Panels and Roundtable Discussions

Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

Book signings will take place in the President’s Conference Center after each reading, panel and discussion.

Poetry Reading & Roundtable Discussion

Sponsored by Third World Press

4:30 p.m.– 5:15 p.m.

Poetry Reading with Haki Madubuti and Tyehimba Jess

Poet, publisher, author, and educator Haki Madhubuti is founder and publisher of Third World Press, and founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University. His recently published titles include Yellow Black: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet’s Life; Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems, 1966–2009; and Honoring Genius: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice, Poems.

"By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented” Roundtable

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Diane D. Turner, Michael Simanga, and Regina Jennings discuss By Any Means Necessary—Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented, Critical Conversations on Manning Marable's Biography of Malcolm X edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki Madhubuti.

Moderator: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Official Conference Opening

7:30 p.m – 9 p.m.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Terrie M. Williams

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Honoree and Featured Speaker

Founders Auditorium

Free and Open to the Public

(Registration/sign–in will be required for this event)

9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Concert: Off-Site Event

2012 NBWC Jazz Concert

Sponsored by the NBWC and Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium


For My Sweet

1103 Fulton Street

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Jazz concert and cultural program featuring Victor Brown, Bilal Sunni Ali, Larry McDonald, and Danny Bowens, former members of the late Gil Scott-Heron’s bands Midnight Band and Amnesia Express, along with special guests.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Professional Development Workshop for Teachers

Walking the Distance of Your Vision:

Poetry, Identification, Self-Expression, and Social Justice

Location: TBA

Medgar Evers College

Requires $25 registration fee

Instructional workshop with Quraysh Ali Lansana, coauthor of Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community.

Panels and Roundtable Discussions

Master of Ceremonies Leroy Baylor

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Defining “Urban,” “Street,” and “Hip-Hop” Literature: Its Evolution and Impact on American Culture 

This panel focuses on “urban,” “street lit,” and/or “hip-hop” literature. For years, Black writers such as Donald Goines, Chester Himes, and Iceberg Slim wrote books that fit into what might be called “urban literature.” Has the definition of what constitutes urban literature changed? As this genre has gained a wide audience, what impact does this have on the publishing industry? What impact do the authors’ stories have on contemporary American culture? Participants on this panel will discuss these issues as well as the origins of urban-themed stories, what constitutes them, and how are they defined today.

Moderator: Jose Torres-Padilla

Panelists: Karen Hunter, Joan Morgan, Shaun Neblett, and Sofia Quintero>

11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Migration and Cultural Memory in the Literature of Black Writers

Sponsored by the Pan-African Literary Forum

The globalization of today’s society and the migration of Black writers to various parts of the African Diaspora have had an impact on our definitions of Black writers and on the literature they produce. The writers on this panel will examine the ways in which Black writers who move back and forth among the geographical boundaries of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe define themselves across cultural boundaries and represent and analyze cultural memory in the literature they produce.

Moderator: Jeffery Renard Allen

Panelists: Opal Palmer Adisa, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Uche Nduka, and Kadija (George) Sesay.

1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Book Signing and Lunch Break for Conference Attendees

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Books, Media, and Culture: A Conversation with Tavis Smiley

A conversation with broadcaster, author, advocate, and philanthropist Tavis Smiley about popular culture and publishing; moderated by Esther Armah.

3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

The Impact of Popular Culture on Politics in the Literature of Black Writers

We live in a society constructed by politics and our nation has developed a political consciousness that informs our elections, our media, our literature, our films, our economy, and our global interactions with the world. Our civil rights, religious, and societal movements are informed by politics. The panelists will discuss the impact of politics in the literature of Black writers from these varying perspectives.

Moderator: Obery M. Hendricks

Panelists: William Jelani Cobb, Keli Goff, Anthony Grooms, Lita Hooper, Michael Simanga, and the Rev. Conrad Tillard

2012 NBWC Reading Series


12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.


Academic Complex Building (AB1)

Room L-11, First Floor

1638 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11225

The National Black Writers Conference Reading Series is sponsored by the African American Literature Book Club, the Brooklyn Literary Council, Mosaic magazine, and the Center for Black Literature. Featuring authors Victoria Brown, Wahida Clark, Teju Cole, K’wan, Jacqueline Luckett, Bernice L. McFadden, Elizabeth Nunez,Charles Rice-Gonzalez, and Lori L. Tharps

12:00 p.m. – 1 p.m Teju Cole (Open City), Jacqueline E. Luckett (Passing Love), and Lori L. Tharps (Substitute Me)
1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.  Victoria Brown (Minding Ben), Bernice L. McFadden (Gathering of Waters), and Elizabeth Nunez (Boundaries)
2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m Wahida Clark (Payback Ain’t Enough) and K’wan (Eviction Notice: A Hood Rat Novel)
3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. 

Charles Rice-Gonzalez (Chulito)

Tribute and Awards Program>

Mistress of Ceremonies, Cheryl Wills

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

1650 Bedford Ave.

This Program is Free and Open to the Public

(Registration/sign–in will be required for this event)

The Tribute and Awards Program will honor the achievements and works of Ishmael Reed,Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Nikki Giovanni, and Dr. Howard Dodson.

2012 NBWC Honorees

Ishmael Reed – John Oliver Killens Lifetime Achievement Award

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – W. E. B. Du Bois Award

Nikki Giovanni – Gwendolyn Brooks Award

Dr. Howard Dodson – Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award

The program will also feature Keorapetse Kgositsile.

Keorapetse Kgositsile is South Africa’s National Poet Laureate and one of the most internationally acclaimed and widely published South African poets. His poetry collections include My Name Is Afrika, Heartprints, To the Bitter End, If I Could Sing: Selected Poems, This Way I Salute You.  He has been the recipient of a number of literary awards, including the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Harlem Cultural Council Poetry Award, the Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Poetry Award, the Herman Charles Bosman Prize, and a number of others.  In 2008, he was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga: Silver (OIS).

National Black Writers Conference
VIP Reception


Skylight Café

AB1 Bldg. 2nd Floor

Medgar Evers College

1638 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11225

Donation: $75

Must be paid in advance. Find out how on our Registration page. Tickets will be available in the Registration Area until capacity is reached or until 7:30 PM. Payment will not be accepted at the door.

Parking is available in the Bedford lot on a “first come first serve” basis. Gain vehicle access via Montgomery St.

Street parking is available, do so at your own discretion.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Session 1

10:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m.  

Fiction: Tiphanie Yanique, Novelist

Poetry: Opal Palmer Adisa, Poet

Book Reviews: Darryl Pinckney, NYRB

Session 2

11:30 a.m. –12:45 p.m.

Dramatic Writing: P. J. Gibson, Playwright

Creative Nonfiction: Kadija George

Book Proposals: Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary Agency

Panels and Roundtable Discussions

Master of Ceremonies, Patrick Oliver

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Black Writers and Ecoliterature: Stories, Essays, and Poetry Shaped by the Natural Environment

Through novels, essays, poetry, short stories and plays, writers have written cautionary tales that prepare us for what will happen if we do not protect the environment. The works of these writers have raised public awareness about crises such as war, famine, and natural disasters. The writers on this panel will discuss the literature that raises public awareness about the need to restore life-sustaining communities.

Moderator: Gillian Royes

Panelists: Sarah M. Broom, Camille Dungy, Nnedi Okorafor, and Patricia Smith

12:45 p.m.–2:15 p.m

The Role of Social Media: Black Writers Take Literature to the Web

The use of the social media for marketing, promoting, and publishing in the writing world is well-documented. There is an argument that social media techniques have leveled the playing field and have helped to make the writing and publishing of books more accessible for all writers. The panelists will discuss the implications of the Internet for Black writers and the ways in which the Internet can be used and/or has been used to affect the marketing and kind of writing produced by Black writers.

Moderator: Grace Aneiza Ali

Panelists: Angela Dodson, Joel Dreyfuss, Troy Johnson, Montague Kobbe, Akoto Ofori-Atta, and Laura Pegram

2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Book Signing and Lunch Break for Conference Attendees

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Being Sold or Selling Ourselves: Black Writers and the Marketplace

Black writers face a number of challenges in the publishing industry. The literary industry professionals on this panel, from mainstream, independent and small presses, discuss these challenges and offer their perspectives on solutions for overcoming these obstacles.

Moderator: Calvin Reid

Panelists: Regina Brooks, JLove Calderon, Linda A. Duggins, Lisa C. Moore, Johnny Temple, and Cheryl Woodruff

Conference Closing

*Program and schedule subject to change.