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2nd Annual National Antiracist Book Festival, Saturday Apr. 24

Scott Haas

The second annual National Antiracist Book Festival is a one-day event taking place this Saturday, April 24 through Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. Due to the pandemic, last year’s event was cancelled, and this year it will be virtual. The remote nature of the festival limits the mingling often deemed essential at literary gatherings, but it also opens the doors for people all over the world to present their work and attend talks and workshops.

The festival focuses on the books at the core of anti-racism writing in the United States today and is a forum for established writers, those seeking to get published and readers of anti-racism works.

“The landscape has altered since the first festival that was held in 2019,” said Jemar Tisby, assistant director of narrative and advocacy at the Center. “The racial justice uprisings last year, which took place in a sustained and vigorous way, have led to a flowering of literature prescribing solutions. This festival is a way to connect people who are in the forefront of this literature.”

Tisby is the author of several books, including “The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism,” published in January 2020. He will be hosting a panel discussion, “On Christ & Justice,” with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Karen González.

The day-long festival is organized around talks with writers, writers workshops, topic-based panel discussions, and presentations by prominent literary agents and editors.

The line-up of authors is a who’s who of top names in anti-racist literature in the United States, and includes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership,” Anand Giridharadas, author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, author of, “This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman,” Robert Jones Jr., author of “The Prophets,” and Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Center for Antiracist Research and author of numerous books, including “How to Be an Antiracist.”

“A lot of different artists and writers have a conscious approach to racism,” said Tisby. “This diversity of art will be showcased at the festival, an opportunity to observe different ways to navigate.”

A highlight of the festival is its focused panels, which offer frank, lively discussions by well-known editors and agents and are designed to assist unpublished writers. This year’s panels include “On Knowing When You have a Great Book Idea” with Vanessa Mobley and Gayatri Patnaik; “Developing a Successful Book Proposal,” with Anjali Singh and Regina Brooks; and “Acquiring a Literary Agent” with Ayesha Pande and Tanya McKinnon.

Festival tickets range from $10 for each talk to $250 for an all-access ticket.

antiracist, arts, books