Today: Sonia Sanchez 80th Birthday Bash In Brooklyn

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Sonia Sanchez

The Center for Black Literature, AKILA WORKSONGS, African Voices Magazine, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Arts+Crafts, Inc. announced the 80th birthday party for the world renowned poet, humanitarian, scholar and activist SONIA SANCHEZ.

A coalition of literary, cultural and media organizations all headquartered in New York City, invites the public to Celebrate Sonia! a special event to be held at Bedford Hall on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. The venue is located at 1177 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216 between Madison Street and Jefferson Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant.

Admission is $35 and tickets are still available online at Brisk sales have prompted the presenters to forecast a “sold out” event.  For general information, call 718.804.8882.

Media inquiries are directed to or 718.756.8501.

Features and Confirmed Special Guests

With special guests coming in from all parts of the country, Celebrate Sonia! promises to be a memorable party.

The presenters seek to honor Sanchez’s love for rejoicing and creating memories, as well as her passion for engaging inter-generationally. When invited to attend perform or present, some of today’s most respected poets and Sanchez mentees agreed without hesitation, including Ursula Rucker (Philadelphia) and Jessica Care Moore (Detroit).

Poet and Publisher Haki Madhubuti of Third World Press (Chicago) will give remarks about his long-time friend and the legendary poet Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets will perform a poem penned especially for Sonia. Another living legend, Otto Neals (also an octogenarian), created a special painting for Sonia and will present it at the event.

Proclamations from US Congressman Charles Rangel, New York State Assembly Member Karim Camara, and New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo will also be presented. Renowned poet and scholar Eugene Redmond (East St. Louis) will give the toast. DJ Reborn will be the resident DJ for the evening to ensure plenty of dancing and award-winning poet and writer asha bandele will host.The admission covers entry only. Attendees will be able to purchase food, beverages and drinks. While gift bags will be distributed freely, the official souvenir journal will be available for purchase and it features written tributes from Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Danny Glover, and many other friends of Sonia Sanchez. Select Sanchez books will be on sale too.

Presenters, Sponsors, and Supporters

The Celebrate Sonia birthday party in New York City is presented, sponsored and supported by a collective of Sanchez’s friends, colleagues and admirers who have either worked closely with her over the years or who appreciate the value and timeless significance of her work.

The co-presenters are Brenda M. Greene, Clarence V. Reynolds and Maeshay k. Lewis of the Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College, CUNY (Brooklyn); April R. Silver of AKILA WORKSONGS (Brooklyn); Carolyn A. Butts of African Voices Magazine (Brooklyn); Khalil G. Muhammad and Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Harlem), and Tyren (Tai) Allen of Arts+Crafts, Inc. (Brooklyn).

The Friends of Sonia Sponsors, Host Committee Members, and Media Partners are listed online at

Poet, playwright, mother, scholar, lecturer and peace activist, Sonia Sanchez is a renowned force of nature respected in literary and activist communities all over the world and by people of all races, identities, ages and backgrounds. In 2011, Sanchez was selected as the first poet laureate of Philadelphia. Mayor Michael Nutter identified her as “the longtime conscience of the city.”

Sanchez is the author of more than 20 books, has lectured internationally at more than 500 colleges and universities, and has been awarded countless awards and honors, including the 1985 American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades. She is also the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medalist. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University and she held the Laura Carnell Chair in English at that university.

Born in Alabama on September 9, 1934, the soon-to-be octogenarian came of age in New York City during the Black Arts and Black Power Movements of the 1960’s and 70’s. Currently based in Philadelphia, the former Harlemite is regarded as the Godmother of the Black Arts Movement. The late Maya Angelou heralded her as “a lion in literature’s forest.” Today’s poets, writers, hip-hop artists, grassroots activists, and public servants alike point to her work as their guiding light. “She opened the door for everything we do,” says hip hop artist Talib Kweli.




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