“As an adult, literacy has continued to be important to me. I’m a novelist and have attended literacy festivals all over the country. Naturally, my mind kept coming back to this thought: What can I do to promote literacy in Memphis, particularly among African- American children? Where can they go and see people who look like them who are interested in writing and reading? Research shows that if a child isn’t reading on grade level by third grade, he or she is at greater risk for dropping out of school, becoming involved in crime, and ending up in poverty. My son Kevin and I decided to start a literacy festival here in Memphis, specifically to address that concern. We began in a couple of hallways at Lemoyne-Owen College with perhaps 300 attendees, but we’re now in our fourth year and we’ve moved to the Cook Convention Center. This year's festival will be held September 18-19 and (based on last year’s numbers) we expect more than 3,000 attendees. There will be 100 authors and publishers, lots of local vendors, concessions, a children’s area, awards for readers and book clubs, and lots more.
“Yes, the idea started as a way to encourage African-Americans, which is why we called it the Black Writers and Book Clubs Literacy Festival. But that name is changing. Next year it will be called, simply, Literacy Rocks! We want everyone to know they are welcome. We don’t want to do to other people what was done to us.”
Kevin Gray, Literacy Program Director
The 4th annual BWABC Literacy Festival will be held September 18 & 19, 2015, at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.
- Friday evening's information session and discussion will center around the business of writing / publishing and will be geared specifically for authors and publishers.
- Saturday's activities are family-friendly, free, and open to everyone. Hours are 10 am - 5 pm.