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Newark Library to Host Harlem Writers Guild and Famed Historian and Author
January 2, 2008
Media only, please contact:
Heidi Cramer at (973) 733-7837 or Pam Goldstein at (973) 228-4559

The Newark Public Library hosts two special programs for Black History Month 2008, one featuring authors from the Harlem Writers Guild on Wednesday, January 30, and the second on Saturday, February 9 with renowned U.S. historian and the author of Creating Black Americans, Nell Irvin Painter, Ph.D. Both events will be take place at the Main Library at 5 Washington Street.

The two programs are free and open to the public. They are part of The Library’s eight-week salute to Black History, which this year pays tribute to African-American literary societies in a special exhibit in the Main Library’s second floor gallery, Entrusted to Our Keeping: The Legacy of African-American Literary Societies in Newark, the Nation and the World. The exhibit is on view through March 22.

"We are thrilled to bring these well-known and accomplished authors to the city. Black History Month is a perfect time to keep the voices of African-American writers in the forefront of the public consciousness," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey.

Sandra L. West of Newark, the guest curator of Entrusted to Our Keeping, will speak at the January 30 event. West teaches courses about the Harlem Renaissance at Rutgers University and The Adult School of Montclair. Her reference book, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, was among New Jersey Notable Books for 1999-2005.

Five other members of the Harlem Writers Guild will be joining her at the program, including Grace F. Edwards, who is a veteran author of the Mali Anderson mysteries (Do or Die, The Viaduct, and others), and a 20-plus-year member of the Guild.

Among the other Guild members appearing are E.L. Hobgood, Walter Dean Myers, Gammy L. Singer, and K.C. Washington. Hobgood discusses the artistic methods employed in his novel, Songs of the Zodiac: In Doo-Wop America, a remembrance of the 1960s. Myers of Jersey City has been writing for children and young adults full time since 1977. He has published over 70 books, and has won the Coretta Scott King Award, five times and two of his works were named Newbery honor books.

Singer is an actor and novelist. Laurence Fishburne’s Gypsy Cinema Productions recently optioned her first published work, A Landlord’s Tale, for film. Washington describes herself as the spiritual love child of Katharine Hepburn and James Baldwin and believes in illuminating the present by revealing the past. She will read from her book Mourning Becomes Her: A Novella.

The history of the activist Harlem Writers Guild goes back to the 1950s and the creativity continues into the 21st century. The Guild meets at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in the heart of Harlem, New York.

On Saturday, February 6 between noon and 2 p.m., noted historian Painter will delve into her epic publication, Creating Black Americans, a sweeping overview of the history of African-American people in which she discusses life in pre-slavery Africa to the musical genre of Hip-Hop and its influence in today’s culture.

In the book, Painter included many images from African-American artists, giving a new perspective to the broad scope of their work and allowing a deeper understanding of African-American history and historical experience throughout the old and new worlds.

"We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Painter as the library enjoys a very special relationship with her," said Grey. "Just a few years ago she donated many of her research books on the history of African Americans to the Newark Public Library. The collection is now available for reference in the James Brown African American Room."

Painter is interested in the social aspects of American history and taught the social construction of gender, race and personal beauty as the Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton. She is currently working on two new books; The History of White People, and Personal Beauty: Biology or Culture?

For more information on the The Newark Public Library’s eight-week-long, Black History Month salute including the exhibit, Entrusted to Our Keeping: The Legacy of African American Literary Societies in Newark, the Nation and the World, and its programs, please call 973-733-5411.

PNC Bank is proud to support The Newark Public Library’s Black History Month programs. This exhibition and related programs are funded in part by an operating support grant to The Newark Public Library from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

 

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