WRITERS' LEAGUE OF TEXAS - Black Literature Matters

Thursday, August 18th 7pm







The poet Lucille Clifton wrote, "The literature of America should reflect the children of America." We couldn't agree more.

In this panel conversation, four accomplished writers will discuss why it’s important for readers to seek out diverse books; what can be done to support writers of color (published and just starting out); the ways that writers, publishers, and literary organizations can support diversity in our literature, our programs, and our communities; and the crucial role that black literature plays in shaping the important conversation on race in our country today.

For this August 18 Third Thursday program, the Writers' League is excited to partner with literary organizations and entities across Austin (including ACC's Creative Writing Department, Austin Bat Cave, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, Austin SCBWI, Free Minds, Huston Tillotson University, Kirkus Reviews, the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, and the Texas Book Festival) to bring this panel discussion to as a wide an audience as possible and to give away books to those in attendance. (More details will be provided in the coming weeks)***


Michael Hurd is a historian, author, and freelance writer who was born in Texarkana, Texas and grew up in Houston. He is the director for the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college northwest of Houston. The institute focuses on documenting the almost 500-year history of African American presence in Texas. He is a graduate in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked as a sports writer at the Houston Post, the Austin American-StatesmanUSA Today, and Yahoo Sports. He has authored two books, including Black College Football, 1892-1992, the only book that comprehensively documents the legacies of football programs at historically Black colleges. For more than a decade, he served as a member of the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court for Divisional Players, the group that selects small college players to the College Football Hall of Fame, and he currently serves on the selection committee for the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He's currently at work on his next book, Thursday Night Lights, for UT Press about the history of football programs at black high schools in Texas before integration, 1920-1970. Michael is a board member of the Writers' League of Texas.


Varian Johnson is the author of four novels, including The Great Greene Heist, a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book of 2014. His novels for older readers include My Life as a Rhombus, named to the Texas Library Association Tayshas High School Reading List and the New York Public Library “Stuff for the Teen Age” list, andSaving Maddie, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book. Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Varian now lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.e 


Doyin Oyeniyi is a writer and digital storyteller with a passion for sharing the stories of marginalized people, particularly those of black women. She was born in Nigeria, but has lived in Texas for most of her life. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.J. in Multimedia Journalsm, she’s written everything from blog posts for TexasMonthly.com to profiles for a small art magazine in South Korea. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she’s exploring and sharing the stories of Black Austinites through a web series called Austin While Black.


Jennifer M. Wilks is an Associate Professor in English and in African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin; she is also an affiliate of the Program in Comparative Literature. She is the author of Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism: Suzanne Lacascade, Marita Bonner, Suzanne Césaire, Dorothy West (Louisiana State UP, 2008), which explores the gendered constructs and legacies of the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude movements. Her essays have appeared in African-American ReviewCallalooModern Fiction Studies, and, most recently, in the edited collection Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (U of Minnesota P, 2013). Her translation (French to English) of the 19th-century French and Swiss diaries of African American activist Mary Church Terrell was recently published, and she is currently at work on two book projects: a history of transpositions of the Carmen story set in African diasporic contexts and a study of representations of race and apocalypse in contemporary literature and culture. She spent spring 2013 as a visiting professor in the Département du Monde Anglophone at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3 and in 2013-2014 served as co-director of the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS), whose theme was “Reading Race in Literature and Film.”

Thank you for supporting Writers' Leage of Texas and your local independent bookstore!  

Event date: 
Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 7:00pm
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