Zadie Smith, the acclaimed novelist who is a professor of creative writing at New York University, has been selected to received the Langston Hughes Medal from the City College of New York. The medal honors writers of poetry, drama, fiction, biographies, and critical essays from throughout the Black diaspora. Professor Smith will honored on November 16 at City College’s annual Langston Hughes Festival.
Previous winners of the Langston Hughes Medal include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, August Wilson, and Edwidge Danticat. Smith is the author of five novels including her latest work Swing Time(Penguin Books, 2016). She also published an essay collection Changing My Mind(Penguin Books, 2009) and writes frequently for the New Yorkermagazine and the New York Review of Books.
A native of London, Professor Smith is a graduate of Kings College of the University of Cambridge. She joined the faculty at New York University in 2010.
Nikki Giovanni was a revolutionary poet of the Black Arts Movement that nourished civil rights. She had a famous dialogue with James Baldwin in Paris in 1971. As a professor at Virginia Tech, she brought beauty and courage by the way of poetry after the shooting there.
Today, she is a self-proclaimed space freak and a delighted elder — an adored voice to hip-hop artists and the new forms of social change this generation is creating.
Check out Ms. Giovanni’s On Being Podcast from August 24, 2017 by clicking below:
Barry Jenkins is set to direct an adaptation of “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna Pictures, marking his first feature film since his hit “Moonlight” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.
Based on the novel by James Baldwin, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the story follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their child. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream.
Production on the film is expected to start in October. Jenkins, who has wanted to make the film for many years, wrote the screenplay during the same summer sojourn in 2013 when he penned “Moonlight.” Since then, Jenkins has been working with the Baldwin Estate. Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, says, “We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation. Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose medicine for melancholy impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”
“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New York Public Library recently acquired James Baldwin’s personal archive. The archive includes 30 linear feet of letters and manuscripts, as well as drafts of essays, novels, and other works. It also includes galleys and screenplays with notes handwritten on them as well as photographs and other media forms documenting Baldwin’s life and creative output.
“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” said Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center of the new acquisition. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists, and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words, and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers—I count myself among all three—to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”
“Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maya Angelou all have collections at the Schomburg Center and Baldwin was their colleague. His papers not only complement theirs, but offer researchers a fascinating look at the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, through the works of these seminal figures,” said Steven G. Fullwood, Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
1,826 readers cast votes back in 2001 for their favorite African-American authors. Here we share the 50 authors who received the most votes ranked in the order of the total number of votes received. Below are the top 15. To see the rest, go to: http://aalbc.com/authors/top50authors.php?
# 1 — (6.24%) Toni Morrison # 2 — (5.42%) Zora Neale Hurston # 3 — (4.82%) Maya Angelou # 4 — (4.71%) J. California Cooper # 5 — (4.33%) Alice Walker # 6 — (3.94%) Langston Hughes # 7 — (3.72%) E. Lynn Harris # 8 — (3.56%) James Baldwin # 9 — (3.23%) Terry McMillan # 10 — (3.18%) Bebe Moore Campbell # 11 — (2.74%) Richard Wright # 12 — (2.57%) Walter Mosley # 13 — (2.52%) Eric Jerome Dickey # 14 — (2.41%) Sheneska Jackson # 15 — (2.19%) Octavia Butler —Copyright AALBC.com.
Nelson said he wanted his painting to be “a stylistic montage” that honors “the great Harlem Renaissance painters: Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and Palmer Hayden.”
Also included in the beautiful illustration are Black cultural giants Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the Nicholas Brothers.
The event attracted a bevy of black Hollywood stars, who celebrated the legacy of King and other black historical icons. Some stars paid tribute through musical performances, like India.Arie, who praised Shirley Chisholm. Others, including Rock, gave powerful recitals.
Rock, who will host the Oscars next month, read the words to Baldwin’s widely praised 1963 letter, “My Dungeon Shook.” Watch Rock’s full performance (he takes the stage around the 1:44 mark) by clicking here.