Black Excellence in Crown Heights


By Cinnamon Barrington  |  April 1, 2023, was an amazing day! It was the National Black Writers Conference. The first time I heard about this conference was in the first semester of my 3rd year at Medgar Evers. This year, I enjoyed experiencing the event with my colleague Keyshawn. This year was the 16th annual edition, meaning the conference was established in the year 2007 when I just happened to be in 1st grade. Although Keyshawn and I had to stay in the front and register attendees and we did not get to join in on the panels, it was still a great experience. For one thing, I finally met two of my professors with whom I had taken classes online. I had a pleasure meeting Dr. Brenda Greene and Donna Hill face to face.

Registering different writers for the conference and hearing about distinct aspects of literature was very cool. Each interaction I had with attendees, panelists, alumni, and local people was very informative and interesting. Talking to Keyshawn about our future endeavors and our experiences as English majors opened up the idea of trying out new things with English for me. We both have different concentrations in English which made us more open to trying new things in the writing field. Although I enjoy writing, if I had to choose, I would prefer reading. I love encountering the individual voice of each author, using their own language to speak to the reader. Keyshawn and I had a lot more in common than I realized, but I guess that’s why we are both English majors.

One of my favorite parts of the event, besides putting the cute little wristbands on the guests, was running into my current professor for my African American Literature class Dr. Carlyle Van Thompson. The first thing he asked me was “What are you doing here?” He was not only enjoying the festivities, but he was also educating local writers in our neighborhood. A lot was happening all at once: the conference was in full effect; senior photos were being taken on the campus; and by the afternoon, I ended up becoming a walking compass orienting guests around the campus.

Another highlight was when a man came in and asked me and my colleague what the event was. We replied that it was the National Black Writers Conference. The man smiled widely and asked if he could attend. We were more than happy to oblige. He explained to us that he needed more guidance when it comes to editing. He sure was in the right place. A couple of minutes later he was laughing with my professor.

It felt empowering to see the vendors selling products such as sea moss, African clothing, and books by Black writers. I enjoyed the versatility of the whole event. It revealed the beautiful culture of Black literature.

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