On Saturday, March 27, 2021, The Center for Black Literature held a symposium celebrating the lives, and artistic contributions to literature, of the late Paule Marshall and John A. Williams. “They Cried I Am: The Life and Work of Paule Marshall and John A. Williams, Unsung Black Literary Voices” was a bountiful expression of gratitude and acknowledgement for two pioneering figures within the community. These declarations are integral to creating positive spaces for black people to be rightfully celebrated and revered, as oftentimes we are written out of that narrative. Although the event lasted a range of eight hours, I would like to focus in on one essential point I steadily resonated with when it was presented in the course of the discussion.
While keynote speakers gave their personal reflections on Paul Marshall and John A. Williams, Brooklyn borough President Eric Adams shares a prolific experience about finding comfort and solace through black literature. The rich connection between external narrative and personal encounters creates a sense of pride in our culture. It helps us to know that our collective stories are validated and that support is here, if needed. Adams spoke on the importance of black literature and its significance, in regards to our school system today. This is worthy of being highlighted primarily because the conversation of recognizing black literature as the staple that it is, is fairly new. Even so, organizations like The Center for Black Literature continue to push the conversation and maintain its forward flowing existence. Through these acts of visibility, we continue to see and feel the resilience that naturally extends from within our demographic.
Eshana France, English Major,