Schomburg Center’s Literary Festival to focus on black literature with signings, talks and readings

A decades-old research institute in Harlem focused on black culture is hosting its first-ever literary festival on Saturday.

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival: Reading the African Diaspora will feature book signings, panel discussions and readings, as well as workshops and activities to spotlight authors of African descent.

The daylong event has been in the works for several years, according to Novella Ford, the associate director of exhibitions and public programs at the center.

One of its goals is to take the center’s robust programming outside of the Schomburg’s walls into a festival setting, she told amNewYork.

The festival kicks off with a performance by Batalá New York — an all-woman, Afro-Brazilian samba reggae percussion band — and a panel discussion centered around “Daughters of Africa,” an anthology edited by Margaret Busby that features works by more than 200 women of African descent.

Ford said she hopes the festival introduces readers to black authors they may not have heard of, while giving people a chance to “explore other cultures … in an authentic way.”

“If the Schomburg Center can be a resource for introducing more people to [new] authors, that would be great,” she said. “I hope they are pleased to see an author that they didn’t expect to see on the festival circuit.”

A host of workshops, panels and activities will take place inside the center and on two stages outside the center for the rest of the day, featuring writers including Darnell L. Moore (“No Ashes in the Fire”); Patrice Nganang (“When the Plums Are Ripe”); Ishion Hutchinson (“House of Lords and Commons”);  Safiya Sinclair (“Cannibal”); Glory Edim (founder, Well-Read Black Girl); Willie Perdomo (“The Crazy Bunch”); Mahogany L. Browne (“Woke Baby”); and Vashti Harrison (“Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History”).

Other highlights include a discussion of James Baldwin’s essay collection, “The Price of the Ticket,” and a conversation between “The Cooking Gene” author Michael W. Twitty and “Black Culinary History” founder and chef Therese Nelson.

There will also be bookmark-making, face painting, poetry readings and a live musical storytelling event featuring poets, singers and musicians.


Schomburg Center Literary Festival: Reading the African Diaspora takes place Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd. and on 135th Street btwn. Malcolm X Blvd and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. FREE, full schedule of events at schomburgcenterlitfest.org.

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