The 16th National Black Writers Conference (#NBWC2022)

16th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2022)
The Beautiful Struggle: Black Writers Lighting the Way
Wednesday, March 30 – Saturday, April 2, 2022 (All Live Virtual Events)

The 16th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2022) will be guided by this year's theme: "The Beautiful Struggle: Black Writers Lighting the Way." The public gathering will feature writers, scholars, and literary professionals who, through panels, roundtables, and readings, will engage the public in intellectual discussions on the conference theme and the state of Black literature. The conference will examine the ways that texts by Black writers document struggle and persistence and light the ways for overcoming obstacles and surviving in a racially constructed society. The four-day program will enable all attendees to participate in stimulating literary programming.

We're pleased to announce this year's honorees and award recipients, all of whom will attend select virtual events. Explore our program highlights below. Program subject to change.

and the
Center for Black Literature Lifetime
Achievement Award Recipient

Thursday, March 17, 2022 (A Pre-Conference Event)

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm ET
The John Oliver Killens Reading Series will present a program of
readings and a discussion with a selection of authors of recently published books.

Friday, March 25, 2022 (A Pres-Conference Event)

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET
Green Earth Poets Café will host the National Black Writers Conference Poetry Slam.

DAY ONE: Wednesday, March 30, 2022 (Community Day) - FREE!

11:00 am – 3:00 pm ET
Youth Program – To Be Young, Gifted, and Black
Details to be announced.

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm ET
Opening Keynote: Dr. Haki Madhubuti in Conversation with Dr. Keith Gilyard. Moderator: Dr. Joanne Gabbin
During the Opening Keynote, featured speaker Dr. Haki Madhubuti (author, educator, poet, and publisher of Third World Press) and Dr. Keith Gilyard (author, the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and African American Studies at Penn State) will engage in conversation on the Conference theme, “The Beautiful Struggle: Black Writers Lighting the Way.” Dr. Joanne Gabbin (poet, scholar, and executive director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center) will serve as moderator.

From the Harlem Renaissance of the early 1900s to the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ’70s to the present, Black writers have a long history of overcoming obstacles and expressing their hardships and misfortunes through their narratives, poetry, fiction, essays, and institution building. During this conversation, the distinguished guest speakers will share personal accounts of their achievements and reflect on the struggles Black writers have faced and overcome over the years. Additionally, they will share their perspectives on what lies ahead for Black literature, offer their perspectives on institution building, and reflect on the enduring challenges within the world of publishing.

DAY TWO: Thursday, March 31, 2022

🌟 11:00 am – 3:00 pm ET
Scholarly Presentations on Conference Honorees, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, and John Oliver Killens. Download the Call for Papers Submission Guidelines HERE.

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
Reading: Special Presentation from the Dr. Edith Rock Writing Workshop for Elders

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm ET
Poetry Café
Co-Presented with Brooklyn Public Library

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET
Literary Film Discussion
Co-Presented by African Voices/Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival

DAY THREE: Friday, April 1, 2022

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "Between the World & Me: The Social Responsibility of the Black Writer"
At the first National Black Writers Conference, in 1986, Conference Director John Oliver Killens posed the question: “What then is the responsibility of the Black writer to the community?” Now, 35 years later, faced with challenges of a global health pandemic and widespread racial injustice, we ask ourselves again: “What are our responsibilities as harbingers of the truth?” The speakers on this panel will address this question as they have come to understand the essential role Black writers and their works play in creating literature that amplifies and exemplifies issues that are crucial to our cultural survival.

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "The Souls of Black Folk: Telling Our Stories"
The title of this roundtable is taken from W. E. B. Du Bois’s landmark book The Souls of Black Folks. The participants on this panel will discuss how their works speak to the experiences of Blacks throughout the African diaspora.  Using fiction, poetry, drama, and essay, writers have illustrated the complexity of the Black experience in literature.

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "Afrofuturism: Octavia Tried to Tell Us"
Renowned speculative fiction author Octavia E. Butler wrote and published more than 25 titles in which she entwined themes such as class, gender, race, power, spirituality, climate change, social inequality, and unrest in her cautionary haunting stories. The speakers on this panel will discuss the works of the award-winning author and the ways in which her alternate futures address current issues in our society.

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm ET
Summit Keynote: Herb Boyd, Jacqueline Woodson, and Tracy K. Smith
Moderator: Farah Jasmine Griffin
During the Summit Keynote, 2022 Honorees will address the Conference theme and discuss how the works of artists, poets, storytellers, and writers document struggle and determination and light the way for overcoming obstacles and thriving in a racially constructed society.

DAY FOUR: Saturday, April 2, 2022

11:00 am – 12:30 pm ET
Writing Talkshops: Publishing, Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, and Young Adult

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "Nobody Knows My Name: Race Relations in Black Literature"
This roundtable is inspired by James Baldwin’s collection of essays that addresses a range of topics including race relations, the relationship between the artist and society, and relationships between and among the sexes. The speakers on this panel will explore these themes in the texts of writers who are highlighting social and cultural issues that affect the Black community and impact our overall society.

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "Making a Way Out of No Way: Healing the Community"
Black writers, in their understanding of the continuous struggle for justice and the need to address aspirations and challenges that affect the Black community, have been a voice of strength and provided a balm for our souls to propel us through the most challenging of times. The speakers on this panel will discuss the transformative power of literature as an agent for both personal and social change.

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm ET
Roundtable: "From the Margin to the Center: Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism in Black Literature"
Many of the most compelling books of recent years have centered on themes that included Black womanhood, self-identity, and sexuality—topics that are ever-changing in their exploration within literary text. The speakers on this panel will shed light on the representation of gender, feminism, and sexuality as they are represented in the narratives of Black writers. 

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm ET
Awards and Tribute Program
Honorees: Herb Boyd, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Jacqueline Woodson, and Tracy K. Smith

Contact Us

Center for Black Literature (CBL)
at Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1534 Bedford Avenue | 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11216
(Click HERE for the Postal Mailing Address)

Main Phone: (718) 804-8884
Main Office:

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To carry out our literary programs and special events, we depend on financial support from the public. Donations are welcome year-round. Please click HERE to donate. Thank you!
The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College is supported in part by an American Rescue Plan Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support general operating expenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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