The inaugural Atlanta African American Book Festival is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC and will take place on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Georgia State University. Over 70 authors will convene in Atlanta to present their work to the Atlanta community. Author categories include fiction, non-fiction, romance, YA fiction, middle-grade fiction, and children’s picture books. Journalists, editors, publishers, literary critics, and scholars from various fields will be present. Panel discussions and workshops will engage festival attendees in topics concerning literary industry tips, civil disobedience, activism, emotional and spiritual well-being, restorative justice, and health and wealth. Children’s activities include a story corner and festival dance floor.
I will be one of many authors in attendance and I would be honored to have your support at my table. Since I did not have a launch signing or gathering for Revolution, I’d like to use this as an opportunity for a post-launch celebration. You will have the chance to purchase signed paperback copies of my two most recent books (and not just mine but other authors too), take pictures, take part in workshops, and meet industry professionals. Again, attendance at the festival is FREE so you’ll just need to make it here (food is not allowed inside the venue but there will be food trucks on the outside). This is not just an entertainment event but we also seek to implement community programming that promotes black literary arts and family sustainability within our community. To check out my AAA blog feature, click here.
Welcome back to Black History Fun Facts where I am still not finished with my original article (lol), but I got you covered.
Now, we are familiar with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and many of the writers and musicians of The Harlem Renaissance Movement. What we are not always familiar with are the painters, photographers, and sculptors. That is why when I find someone great, I like to highlight them.
Before we go on, take a moment and dig into your purse, wallet or coin jar (or coin purse….I know some of ya’ll still have them!) Wherever you keep your change, pick out a dime.
In the 1920s, Selma Burke became one of the African American women of the Harlem Renaissance through her relationship with the writer Claude McKay. The two shared a Manhattan apartment but McKay was mean, destroying her work when he didn’t like it, and the relationship was a strange one. Nonetheless, it was through Claude that Burke got introduced to the Harlem community. She studied under another black woman sculptor of the movement, Augusta Savage.
An educator, Burke later taught at the Harlem Community Art Center and founded the Selma Burke Art School in New York City and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh. (This makes her one of my heroes since I do want to start my own school one day.) Burke is most famous for her 1944 sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was the model for his image on the dime, though she never received credit for it. Only now are people starting to recognize that she was the inspiration behind the image.
Burke’s sculpting of the image came about as part of a contest, where she wrote the White House stating that she could not sculpt the image from a photo alone. The White House responded and granted her a sitting with the president. The credit for the plaque was given to U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Sinnock but it was Burke who created the original design. Burke also sculpted Booker T. Washington and later, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Burke made sculpture by shaping white clay from her parents’ farm as a child. After being educated at what is now Winston-Salem State University and trained as a nurse at St. Agnes Hospital Nursing School in Raleigh, Burke moved to New York City to work as a private nurse.
“Selma Burke was born on December 31, 1900, in Mooresville, North Carolina, the seventh of 10 children of Neil and Mary Colfield Burke. Her father was an AME Church Minister who worked on the railroads for additional income. As a child, she attended a one-room segregated schoolhouse and often played with the riverbed clay found near her home. She would later describe the feeling of squeezing the clay through her fingers as the first encounter with sculpture, saying “It was there in 1907 that I discovered me.” – Wikipedia
After completing a Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University in 1941, Burke began to teach art, first at the Harlem Community Art Center and later at schools she founded in New York and Pittsburgh.
Burke’s last monumental work, a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Marshall Park in Charlotte, was completed in 1980. Selma Burke died in 1995 in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
The wings are symbolic of freedom. To me writing is the most important kind of art because words live. To me, ink meets paper to create something spiritual. Not only can we see the beauty of words, but we can feel it. I would define my style of writing, poetry or otherwise, as poetic justice because I am always seeking to free people, to include myself, from the limited ways we tend to think and to feel. This is not always an easy task and so as I write, the keystrokes are heavy with the responsibility my purpose carries. The weight of the kinds of things that I write always looms in the background of the page as if daring me to go on. And this is always the moment when I know that I must.