Join The Black Culture Annual Literary Festival At The Schomburg In Harlem

June 8, 2023

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem will host its 5th Annual Literary Festival on Saturday, June 17th, 2023.

Traditionally held on Juneteenth weekend, the Schomburg Center Literary Festival is held both outdoors and throughout the historic research library in Harlem, featuring discussions, workshops, and book signings with established and emerging writers across the Black Diaspora.

This year’s theme “Literacy is Generational Wealth” features book talks with Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Between Starshine and Clay, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun), Cynthia Manick (No Sweet Without Brine), Henry Threadgill (Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music) and Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky) among others and workshops lead by Hasna Muhammad (Breathe in the Sky: Poems Prayers & Photographs) with Harlem Writers Guild and The Moth.

This year, author and historian Claude Johnson (Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era) will join the festival for a special conversation presented by PUMA.


Back by popular demand, 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 children’s readings, live music, and craft-making. 

This community-wide celebration of Black joy and literacy will also feature storytelling workshops, a marketplace of local vendors and organizations, a New York Public Library mobile library, and programs for all ages.

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.

“This year, we are thinking about the legacy of literacy,” said Novella Ford, Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions. “We are honoring the importance of passing down books, positive ideas about reading, and continuing to be bold in our choices at a time when the currents are pushing against the freedom to read and the invaluable service of public libraries. This festival is a celebration of readers and writers across genres and generations.”

Festivities begin at 11:30 AM with the keynote conversation featuring Sarah Ladipo Manyika discussing Between Starshine and Clay: Conversations from the African Diasporaand exploring some of the most distinguished Black thinkers of our times, including Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka, and former First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

This year’s artwork Generational Wealth is produced by multidisciplinary artist Ernest A. Ford.

Programs will be held from 11:30 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 in Harlem. Author readings, panel discussions, and workshops will range from prose to poetry, comic books to young adult novels, fiction, and nonfiction. The festival is free, public, and open to all ages. See the full schedule at schomburgcenterlitfest.org

The 2023 Schomburg Center Literary Festival is powered by Puma. Major support is provided by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival is part of The New York Public Library’s “Summer at the Library” initiative, which will launch June 5 and offers kids, teens, and their families a series of free programs at its 92 locations to spark a lifelong love of reading and learning, and help students combat “summer slide”—when they forget what they learned in the summer months while outside the classroom.  A full list of free programs and offerings can be found at nypl.org/summer

Major support for Summer at the Library is provided by the New York Life Foundation, the 2023 city-wide sponsor for the Summer Reading and Learning Programs. 

Additional support is provided by The Rona Jaffe Foundation; New York Yankees Foundation; anonymous donors; and the continuing major support of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Family Endowment for Young Audiences.

These programs and initiatives are part of the Library’s overall commitment to our branch patrons and education programs, led by the Merryl and James Tisch Director of Branch Libraries and Education. Major support for educational programming is provided by Merryl H. and James S. Tisch.

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.

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.


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