Monday, February 29, 2016

Kevin Powell Recap!

On Wednesday, February 17th, acclaimed writer and activist Kevin Powell spoke at KU. The event was co-sponsored by KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, KU Athletics, the Office of Diversity and Equity, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, First and Second Year English, and KU First Year Experience.

Powell, author of the recent memoir The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood (2015), spoke about the importance of education as a means to help eliminate many of the problems we face today, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. In the black community in particular, Powell said, it is imperative that we know our own history, and we have a responsibility to educate others.

The talk was a discussion format. Powell engaged the audience by positing ideas and questions, encouraging collaboration. The event drew over 200 people from the KU, Lawrence, and surrounding communities. If you missed the talk, you can view it online at

The event ended with a book signing and photo opportunity. If you have not read The Education of Kevin Powell, I highly recommend it!

Thank you to all of our co-sponsors and those who came out for supporting the Project on the History of Black Writing.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (2/20-2/27)

Kyla Marshell of Poetry Foundation recognized Sarah Webster Fabio, who has been called "the mother of black studies." Fabio was a revolutionary poet during the Black Arts Movement, but her name and works have fallen in the shadows of more well known poets of the time, such as Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, and Nikki Giovanni.

Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke about the influence poetry has had on his writing.

Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR reviewed Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. In the book, authors Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith recount the relationship between the two figures and the role religion ultimately played in ending their friendship.

"The Civil Right's Activist You May Not Know but Should" - Abesi Manyando of the Huffington Post remembered activist Washington Booker III, who passed away last month.

Patricia Hill Collins of the New York Times reviewed Until There is Justice: The Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman, by Jennifer Scanlon. Hedgeman was an African American civil rights activist who died in 1990. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and dedicated her life to racial and gender justice. This biography recounts the life of the relatively unknown but influential figure.

Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post reviewed The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, by Michael Eric Dyson. In the book, Dyson writes a scathing critique of the Obama administration, accusing Obama of "racial procrastination."

Friday, February 19, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (2/13-2/19)

Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book To Kill a Mockingbird, has passed away at the age of 89.

Director Stanley Nelson has created a Black Panther Party documentary: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the RevolutionPBS aired the documentary for the first time on February 16th.

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Guardian argued that the Black Panthers are still misunderstood 50 years later. She writes, "The Black Panthers represent a missed opportunity, a moment when people in positions of power looked at a response to injustice and saw only the extremity of the response, rather than the desperation that produced it."

Anthony Berteaux of the Huffington Post wrote about the importance of learning Black history in order to learn from it to make changes. Black History is American history -- by educating ourselves, he says, "we can make America realize that black history isn't about 'them.' It's always been about us."

Henry Louis Gates responded to the inquiry, "Why is My White Ancestor Listed as Black in the Census?"

Local news: in honor of Black History Month, the University of Kansas's basketball team is wearing throwback jerseys.

Kevin Powell spoke at the University of Kansas on February 17th. Powell spoke about the necessity of education to help eliminate many of the problems we face today, such as racism, sexism, and xenophobia. A recap of the talk is coming soon!

On February 18th, Project HBW held its annual Black Literary Suite. This year's theme was Sports Figures with a Kansas Connection. A recap of this event is also coming soon, but you may also view the exhibit online through KU Library's Scholarworks. (a KU login may be required).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (2/7-2/12)

Thursday marked the 26th anniversary since Nelson Mandela was released from a South African prison. On February 11, 1990, Mandela was set free after spending 27 years behind bars.

In honor of Black History Month, the New York Times is releasing rare, unpublished photos of moments in black history from its archive throughout February.

The Washington Post recommended the following three Best Poetry Books for February: Kevin Young's Blue Laws, Dana Gioia’s 99 Poems: New & Selected, and Jennifer Grotz's Window Left Open.

#BlackLivesMatter has swept the nation by storm, but before there was Black Twitter there was the Defender. 

As part of the Huffington Post's "Black Future Series," Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye, in an interview, sheds light on the black immigrant narrative.

Check out these 10 museums in the U.S. focused on African American history!

20 young people of color shared their favorite poems.

Be sure to attend Project HBW's annual Black Literary Suite on Thursday, February 18th from 2-5 P.M. in Watson 455. This year's theme is "Sports Figures with a Kansas Connection." The day before, Wednesday, February 17th,  Kevin Powell will be visiting KU to speak about his newest book and activism. Follow the links above for more information. Both of the programs are free to the public.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (1/29-2/6)

Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 and died on May 22, 1967. This week, Hughes would have celebrated his 114th birthday. To celebrate the life of Langston Hughes, Christine Delaroy of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU wrote "9 things you should know about Langston Hughes."

Google kicked off Black History Month with a doodle of Fredrick Douglass.

The New York Times posted an inspiring article, "Meet the New Student Activists," highlighting the many faces and stories of activism across college campuses. The University of Kansas's very own Brylan Donaldson is featured in the article.

Poet E. Ethelbert Miller reflected on Black History with the beautiful piece, "Black History and the Coming of Black Rain."

On February 11th and 12th, Rutgers University will host the conference Theorizing Black Literature Now: A Conference Exploring Current and Future Directions in African American Literary Criticism. For more information on the conference, follow the link above.

President Barack Obama released the presidential proclamation for National African American History Month.

On the PBS series Brief But Spectacular, author Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spoke about the artists she chooses to write about -- "We don’t always hear about the people who we know as legends the ways that they were very true to themselves. I’m more interested in the moments when they were uncompromising and they were fearless, because what I hope is that that fearlessness tells us a little bit about how we can be fearless." Ghansah has written on figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Toni Morrison, Kendrick Lamar, Trayvon Martin, and Dave Chappelle.

Pamela Newkirk of the Washington Post reviewed Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.'s book Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. Glaude argues that "American democracy and white supremacy are inextricably linked," and that current civil rights insert blacks into various arenas of American society without attempting to uproot the underlying white supremacy. Glaude pushes for more "disruptive" movements such as Black Lives Matter in order to see real change. 

Mark your calendars and be sure to attend Project HBW's annual Black Literary Suite on Thursday, February 18th from 2-5 P.M. in Watson 455. This years theme is "Sports Figures with a Kansas Connection." The day before, Kevin Powell will be visiting KU to speak about his newest book and activism. Follow the links above for more information!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy 114th Birthday, Langston Hughes!

The following piece has been used with permission from the owner. A link to the original post is listed below. 

"Famed writer and one-time Lawrence resident Langston Hughes, born in Joplin, Mo., 114 years ago, is celebrated throughout the University of Kansas and the city. To help us celebrate his birthday and kick off Black History Month, we spoke to professors across campus to tell us what we should know about Hughes’ significant and broad career and the lasting impact his work had on American culture … in a nutshell."