ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Considered the premier conference of its type in the US, NBWC

panelists have included notable black writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks,

Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, John Edgar Wideman,

Terry McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, Jill Nelson, Ishmael Reed,

Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Marita Golden, George Lamming,

Ntozake Shange, John A. Williams, Margaret Walker Alexander . . .



Books by Arnold Rampersand

Jackie Robinson: A Biography /  Ralph Ellison: A Biography  /  The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

The Life of Langston Hughes (vol. 1), !902-1941 / The Life of Langston Hughes (Vol II), 1914-1967

Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays / The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois

Slavery and the Literary Imagination

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Brooklyn National Black Writers Conference 

Considered the premier conference of its type in the US,

NBWC panelists have included notable black writers


Arnold Rampersad was a member of the department from 1974 to 1983, before resigning to accept a position at Rutgers University. Since then he has taught there and at Columbia and Princeton before returning to Stanford in 1998.

Field: American and African-American literature; biography, autobiography

Special Interests: Biography, autobiography; DuBois, Langston Hughes; literature of the South.

His books include The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois(1976); The Life of Langston Hughes (2 vols., 1986, 1988); Days of Grace: A Memoir (1993), co-authored with Arthur Ashe; and Jackie Robinson: A Biography (1997).

In addition, he has edited several volumes including The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes; the Library of America edition (2 vols.) of works by Richard Wright, including revised individual editions of Native Son and Black Boy; and (as co-editor) Slavery and the Literary Imagination.

He is also co-editor of the Race and American Culture book series published by Oxford University Press. His teaching covers such areas as nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature; the literature of the South; American and African-American autobiography; race and American literature; and the Harlem Renaissance. From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. He is currently at work on a biography of Ralph Ellison (1914 - 1994).

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Books by Elizabeth Nunez

Prospero's Daughter: A Novel  / Grace: A Novel / Stories from Blue-Latitudes:Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad

Bruised Hibiscus When Rocks Dance / Discretion  /  Beyond the Limbo Silence

Defining Ourselves: Black Writers in the 90s

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Elizabeth Nunez emigrated from Trinidad, where she was born, to the United States of America after she completed secondary school. She is presently a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English at Medgar Evers College, the City University of New York, where she designed, developed and implemented many of the college's first major academic programs.

She received her Ph.D. and Masters degrees in English from New York University, and her B.A. degree in English from Marian College in Wisconsin.

With John Oliver Killens, she founded the National Black Writers Conference sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was director of the conference from 1986 to 2000. 

Books by Elizabeth Nunez


Prospero's Daughter: A Novel  / Grace: A Novel / Stories from Blue-Latitudes:Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad


Bruised Hibiscus When Rocks Dance / Discretion  /  Beyond the Limbo Silence


Defining Ourselves: Black Writers in the 90s

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Brooklyn National Black Writers Conference 2003

April 2 - April 5

you are invited to be a part of the oldest and largest conference of its kind
National Black Writers Conference 2003
"Literature as Access: Connecting to Ourselves,
Our Communities, Our Histories"

Wednesday, April 2
Saturday, April 5

For Writers, Avid Readers, Scholars, Critics, Publishers, Literacy Advocates,
and supporters of literature by African Americans & other peoples of African Ancestry!

NBWC Conference Program
Wednesday, April 2
"Literature as Propaganda: Reconsidering
W.E.B. DuBois -- Souls of Black Folk"
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Books & amp; Authors featuring Stanley Crouch and Playthell Benjamin

Considered the premier conference of its type in the US, NBWC panelists have included notable black writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, John Edgar Wideman, Terry McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, Jill Nelson, Ishmael Reed, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Marita Golden, George Lamming, Ntozake Shange, John A. Williams, Margaret Walker Alexander, Paule Marshall, Mari Evans, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Arnold Rampersad, Stanley Crouch, and Maryse Condé, among others.



6th National Black Writers Conference

April 2 - 5, 2003


Panels & workshops held at The Studio Museum in Harlem,
New York University, and Medgar Evers College/CUNY *

some events are free and open to the general public;
others require registration

Amiri Baraka, Marita Golden, Walter Mosley,
Elizabeth Nunez, Michael Eric Dyson, Camille Yarbrough,
John Edgar Wideman, jessica Care moore, Stanley Crouch, Joan Morgan, Colin Channer, Toni Blackman,
Louis Reyes Rivera, Terrie Williams, Quincy Troupe,
Woodie King, Jr., and many others!

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Wednesday, April 2

"Literature as Propaganda: Reconsidering
W.E.B. DuBois’ “
Souls of Black Folk
with Stanley Crouch
and Playthell Benjamin
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Co-sponsored by The Studio Museum in Harlem
this pre-conference event is free and open to the public

Friday, April 4 (Friday events @ Medgar Evers College)
FILM: Emmett Till
9:00 am - 10:45 am
There will be a discussion after the film
"Conformity & Resistance: Writing for Film"
11:00 am -12:00 pm
Panelists: Sam Pollard, Thulani Davis, Richard Wesley,
Yvonne Welbon
~ Moderator: Clyde Taylor
"READING: Emerging Voices: Writers on Their Work"
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Readers: Obery Hendricks, Ravi Howard, Nelly Rosario,
Nicole Bailey Williams
~ Moderator: Marita Golden
Spoken Word/Hip-Hop Poetry Event
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
MC: jessica Care moore
Official Conference Opening:
VIP Reception & Photo Exhibit
("Dripping Ink: Light as a Feather: Heavy as Lead")
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Co-sponsored by African Voices
"Reflections on Literature as Access"
7:00 pm -- 9:00 pm
A conversation with NBWC Honorary Chair
Elizabeth Nunez and Guests
with a Special Tribute to John O. Killens
(novelist and co-founder of NBWC)

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Saturday, April 5

"The State of Black Literature"
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Panelists: Tina McElroy Ansa, Amiri Baraka,
Keith Gilyard, Sonia Sanchez **,
John Edgar Wideman
~ Moderator: Max Rodriquez
"Writing to Publish: Authors, Editors,
and Agents on Contemporary Writing"

11:15 am - 12:45 pm
Panelists: Malaika Adero, Colin Channer, Donna Hill,
Tracey Sherrod
~ Moderator: Linda Duggins
"Writing Our Selves: Memoir"

11:15 am - 12:45 pm
A Conversation with Michael Eric Dyson
Interviewed By Joan Morgan
"Conformity and Resistance: Writing for Stage"
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Panelists: Eisa Davis, Paul Carter
Harrison, Laurence Holder,
Marcia Leslie
~ Moderator: Woodie King, Jr.
"Saving Our Futures: Inspirational,
Self-Help, and Motivational Books"

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Panelists: Patrik Henry Bass, Herb Boyd,
Brooke Stephens, Terrie Williams,

"Voices of Conscience:
Poets, Griots, and the Spoken Word"

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Panelists: Toni Blackman, Linda Susan Jackson,
Tony Medina, Louis Reyes Rivera,
Tracy K. Smith
~ Moderator: Delridge Hunter
"It Takes a Village: The State
of Children's Literature"

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Panelists: Cheryl Hudson, Christopher
Meyers, Walter Dean Myers,
Camille Yarbrough
~ Moderator: Wade Hudson

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(all workshops will be held at Medgar Evers College and require a separate registration)
Poetry Workshop with Quraysh Ali Lansana
(11:15 am - 12:45 pm)
Writing for Theater and Screen with Marcia Leslie
(11:15 pm - 12:45 pm)
Writing Children's Literature with Camille Yarbrough
(11:15 pm - 12:45 pm)
Preparing a Successful Book Proposal with Tracey Sherrod (1:00 pm - 2:00 pm)
Fiction: The First Chapter with Donna Hill
(2:00 pm - 3:30 pm)
Songwriting with Masauko Glyn Chipembere
(2:00 pm - 3:30 pm)
Biography and Memoir with Quincy Troupe
(4:00 pm - 5:30 pm)

* The Studio Museum in Harlem is located at 144 W. 125th Street (NYC). For more information about this venue, please call 212.864.4500. Medgar Evers College is located at 1650 Bedford Avenue (Brooklyn, NY).

** For serious health reasons, Dr. Sonia Sanchez will not be in attendance as originally confirmed. She will, however, provide a statement on the topic which will be presented at this panel.

for additional program information, registration, directions,
FAQ Sheet, and other details, please call
The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College
at 718.270.6976 or visit our website at
requests for media kits are directed to 718.756.8501
or or  


*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Pelican Heart—An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou

Edited by Emio Jorge Rodriguez

Passion for the Nation is what comes out of Sekou’s poems at a first glance and at a deeper reading. The book is a selection gathered from eleven of Sekou’s poetry collections between 1978 and 2010. Rodríguez is an independent Cuban academic, writer, and essayist. He has been a researcher at Casa de las Américas’s Literary Research Center and founded the literary journal Anales del Caribe (1981-2000). María Teresa Ortega translated the poems from the original English to Spanish. A critical introduction, detailed footnotes, and a useful glossary by Rodríguez are also found in the book of 428 pages. The collection has been launched at conferences in Barbados, Cuba, and Mexico.

Rodriguez’s introduction to Pelican Heart refers to Dr. Howard Fergus’s Love Labor Liberation in Lasana Sekou, which is the critical commentary to Sekou’s work that identifies three cardinal points in his poetics.

I would add as cardinal points: Belief or Driving Force of people in political processes, like his political commitment to make St. Martin independent, as the southern part of the Caribbean island is a territory of the Netherlands, while the northern part is a French Collectivité d’outre-mer; Excitement over his literary passions, which led him to found House of Nehesi Publishers at age 23; co-found the book festival of St. Martin, organized with Conscious Lyrics Foundation and to expand his culture considerably; Enthusiasm, which springs out of his eyes and words when you listen to his poetry being performed or when you speak to Sekou in person.—Sara Florian

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Andrew Johnson: The 17th President, 1865-1869

By Annette Gordon-Reed

Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth man to ascend to the highest office in the land, is generally regarded by historians as among the weakest presidents. Gordon-Reed has no intention of moving Johnson up in rank (“America went from the best to the worst in one presidential term,” she corroborates). So this is no reputation rescue. Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (2008), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, takes as her task explaining why we should look anew at such a disastrous chief executive. She reasons he is worth looking at, though her reasoning yields a far from sympathetic look. In a short biography, all bases can be covered, but the author is still left to exercise the tone of a personal essay, which this author accomplishes brilliantly. Her personal take on Johnson is that his inability to remake the country after it was torn apart rested on his deplorable view of black Americans.

 In practical terms, his failure derived from his stubborn refusal to compromise with Congress in the abiding post-Lincoln controversy over who was to supervise the Reconstruction, the executive or the legislative branch. A failure, yes, but more than that, a failure at an extremely critical time in American history.Booklist

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian

Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio) 

 Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls

By Dorothy Sterling

Dorothy Sterling’s biography of Robert Smalls is Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1958). In most history books, the contributions of Negroes during the Civil War and Reconstructions are ignored. Robert Smalls was one of the heroes who is rarely mentioned. He was a Negro slave who stole a ship from the Confederates, served on it with the Union Army with distinction, and finally served several terms in Congress.

All this was accomplished against the handicaps first of slavery, then of the prejudice of the Union Army, and finally of the Jim Crow laws, which eventually conquered him. Besides its value in contradicting the history book insinuation that the Negro was incapable of political enterprise and that the South was right in imposing Jim Crow laws, Captain of the Planter is an exciting adventure story. Captain Smalls’ escape from slavery and his battle exploits make interesting reading, and the style is fast moving.—Barbara Dodds / Legacy of Robert Smalls

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)



update 21 April 2012




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