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‘Well-Read Black Girl Festival’ goes virtual

Lineup includes workshops, author talks and panel discussions

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
‘Well-Read Black Girl Festival’ goes virtual

The annual Well-Read Black Girl Festival begins virtually on Friday, Nov. 6 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 8. This year’s theme is “Black Political Power: Past & Present,” and the weekend will include multiple panels, workshops, author conversations, and tributes to Octavia Butler and Nikki Giovanni.

The festival features 53 authors, educators, activists and poets discussing a range of issues and topics, including the role of Black women journalists in the newsroom, the current state of American politics, the complicated history of Black people in America and the many ways that Black women influence and shape mainstream culture, and feminism today.

The lineup includes Yaa Gyasi (“Transcendent Kingdom” and “Homegoing,” winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award); Tiffany D. Cross (“Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy”), 2020 Resident Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics and on-air political analyst; Luvvie Ajayi Jones (“Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual”), New York Times bestselling author and speaker; Errin Haines, award-winning journalist and founder of the nonprofit newsroom The 19th, and many more accomplished women.

The free literary festival will host several Instagram Live sessions, including “Literary Agent 101: Exploring the Author-Agent relationship,” on Friday Nov. 6 at 3 p.m., followed by “An Editorial Vision” with Nicole Counts, senior editor at One World (an imprint of Random House), and Rakia Clark, senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, at 4 p.m.  Both women will discuss their editorial strategies and the publishing world.

Author Nic Stone. PHOTO: Nigel Livingstone

Author Nic Stone. PHOTO: Nigel Livingstone

The session “Use Your Voice: The Power of YA” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. Moderated by Nic Stone (“Dear Justyce” and “Dear Martin”), the panel includes YA writers Tiffany Jackson, Kim Johnson and Ashley Woodfolk discussing race, identity and the value of youthful perspectives.

The Well-Read Black Girl Festival was launched in 2017 by Brooklynite Glory Edim, the founder of the Well-Read Black Girl (WRBG) online book club and community. In an interview with Rich Fahle, host of PBS Books, at the 2018 L.A. Times Festival of Books, Edim told him that the book club began unexpectedly. She was given a T-shirt by her boyfriend that said, “Well-Read Black Girl,” which he made specifically for her birthday.

“I would wear it out into the community, at the gym and at the grocery store, and it would spark so many conversations,” said the avid reader and Howard University graduate. “From there I had the thought to build something greater from it. Maybe do Instagram, maybe do a newsletter, to actually have a space where we like spoke together, in a book-club form.”

According to Edim, the focus of Well-Read Black Girl is to center Black women in their conversations and in the books that they’re reading. “I’m thinking about economic empowerment. I want people to purchase these books,” Edim said. “I want them to understand the value of our writing, and the importance of sharing stories.”

In addition to founding the national online organization, Edim authored the anthology “Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves,” published in the fall of 2018. It includes personal essays from Black women writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage and Tayari Jones, along with creative voices like actors Gabourey Sidibe and Lena Waithe.

The Well-Read Black Girl Festival concludes on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. with a keynote address by award-winning and celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni in conversation with Edim. Giovanni will discuss her recently published book, “Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose,” her role in the revolution, and the past and present of Black political power.

Registration is required for the free virtual Well-Read Black Girl Festival.