Black Literary Bigs And Aspirants Celebrate

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The 4th Annual African American Literary Award Show was held September 25th in Harlem at the Gatehouse on 135th, attracting authors, actors, sports figures, entertainers, designers, models, publishing executives and others.

Calvin Pace of the New York Jets, Eric Jerome Dickey, Victoria Christopher Murray, Chef G. Garvin, Kim Brockington of Guiding Light, actor and author Hill Harper, Anthony Anderson of Law and Order were some of the guests on hand to share in the festive event.

“I think it’s a great event for a great cause,” the sultry R&B singer Mashonda said. “It’s bringing every body out in Harlem, so that makes it even more cultural and just being here to support anything that our people do is always a pleasure.”

The African-American Literary Awards Show was hatched by Yvette Hayward, president of Y. Hayward, Inc., a public relations firm in 1996 and was incubated and then machinated in 2004 - it has expanded ever since.

“We are in a new space this year, the historic Harlem Gatehouse, but our mission remains the same,” said Hayward. "Recognizing African-American authors as leaders in thought, preservationists of our culture - a viable collective within the publishing industry.”

The publishing industry has changed since the days of authors Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equino. Their tales of slave narratives, religious redemption and tales of progress will forever have its place. But in the 20th century other authors and scholars took up the mantle; primarily W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington who heated up and shook the landscape with their thoughts on how to confront, or in the case of Washington, critics contend, appease, racist attitudes in the United States.

“I know it’s the fourth year but it’s so long overdue,” said the beautiful Nicole Fiscella of Gossip Girl’s. “There are so many literary awards, why not celebrate our own people.”

From the days of the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement and today, African Americans’ role in society has evolved as well as the categories of African American literature. 

“I think many more of us who break into the industry and write successful books – more publishers will take a chance on getting our stories out there,” said Finesse Williams, Saturday Night Live alumni and author. “That’s what I see happening because we’re talented and resourceful people.”

This year’s awards show have 28 categories, ranging from fiction, non-fiction, mystery, poetry, biography, science fiction, street fiction, self-published author of the year, self-published author of the year.

“I’ve been to a lot of award shows for music, arts, sports, but I’m happy to be apart of an event that celebrating the art and skill of writing,” said Rev. Conrad B. Tillard. “When I was growing up, I was taught to read everything, even if you read the funny pages. The more you read that kind of stuff, then the more you’ll become aware of other things. I’m inspired!”

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