Image Credit: Take A Look…The Universe Is Yours!, 2019. By Jennifer Mack-Watkins

On Juneteenth weekend, the Festival will bring together book lovers and their favorite authors for a community-wide celebration. This event expands on the Center’s 97-year tradition of championing authors of African descent from across the nation and the world. 

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will host its 4th annual literary festival on Saturday, June 18th. For the first time since 2019, the event will be held in person as an outdoor festival at the historic research center in Harlem, featuring discussions, workshops, and book signings with established and emerging writers.

Acclaimed authors participating include Jason Reynolds (Stunt Boy, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Patina, Ghost),  Roxane Gay (Hunger, Bad Feminist, Difficult Women), journalist Linda Villarosa (Under the Skin: Racism, Inequality and the Health of a Nation) and Mateo Askaripour (Black Buck) and more. Poet Mahogany L. Browne (Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic) will open the 135th Street stages with her curated Woke Baby Children’s Festival featuring readings, music, movement, and craft-making. 

This community-wide celebration of Black joy and literacy will also feature storytelling workshops with the Harlem Writers Guild and The Moth, a marketplace of vendors and exhibitors, and an on-site appearance from the NYPL bookmobile.

The festival takes place on Juneteenth weekend in honor of the holiday that commemorates the day news of emancipation reached enslaved Black people in Texas on June 19, 1865–2 years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“On a weekend where Black communities around this country mark the anniversary of Juneteenth, I can’t help remembering that reading was a revolutionary act every time a person of African descent defied society’s relegation of what enslaved persons should know about the world around them,” said Novella Ford, Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions at the Schomburg Center“The opportunity to gather book lovers in Harlem to interact with bold writers who imagine new worlds and help us make sense of our past and present is just one way we continue Arturo Schomburg’s legacy and honor the rebellious, joyful- privilege and necessity of reading.”  

This year’s artwork and visual identity are produced by printmaker and arts educator Jennifer Mack-Watkins. The work “Take A Look…The Universe is Yours,” features two young people, heads down in books with the galaxy around them, sparked by their imagination. As Black contemporary writers gather from across the country and around the world, they offer an intergenerational exploration of lived and imagined experiences through literature.  

Programs will be held from 10:30 AM – 6 PM on four stages inside the Schomburg Center and outdoors on 135th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard. Author readings, panel discussions, and workshops will range from prose to poetry, comic books to young adult novels, fiction, and nonfiction. 

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival is free, public, and open to all ages. The official author lineup will be announced on May 17th, 2022 at schomburgcenterlitfest.org

About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diasporan, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections totaling over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture. Learn more at schomburgcenter.org.

About The New York Public Library

For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.