International Black Writers Conference, Revisited

@ Parkway Ballroom

Saturday, November 10 ~~ 11AM

Since its founding in 1970, the International Black Writers Conference (IBWC) served as an important point of connection for Black writers in Chicago and beyond under the leadership of its founding executive director, Alice Browning, who organized the conference until her passing in 1984.

Therefore, as a tribute to Browning’s legacy and as part of the Smart Museum of Art's exhibition The Time Is Now!: Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960–1980, her work will be honored and uplifted through a revisiting of the International Black Writers Conference (IBWC). Bringing together literary giants across genres and experience levels, IBWC showcased writers at the top of their game and the global Black literary community by focusing on the challenges, points of progress, and pressing questions of the industry. This revisiting of IBWC will do the same while bringing together writers who participated in the original conferences and also seasoned and emerging Chicago-based writers who are unknowingly continuing Alice Browning’s legacy in their own ways.

The conference will include a series of intimate roundtable discussions and readings that explore the topics of Poetry and Lyricism; Narrative and Storytelling in Film and on Stage; Cultural Commentary and Criticism; and Black Press, Publishing, and Journalism.

The keynote will be delivered by Dr. Haki Madhubuti of Third World Press with closing remarks by Dr. Kelly Ellis, professor at Chicago State University and organizer of Creative Writing (happening October 19th).

Featured speakers include Monroe Anderson (journalist), Angela Jackson (poet, playwright, Organization of Black American Culture [OBAC]), Sandra Jackson-Opoku (poet, OBAC), Pemon Rami (Filmmaker), Ginger Mance (poet, OBAC, Third World Press Author), Erisa Apantaku (South Side Weekly Radio), Adrienne Samuels Gibbs (Freelance writer for Essence, Ebony, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times), Lolly Bowean (Chicago Tribune), Sydney Chatman (Black Girls Can Fly!), McKenzie Chinn (poet, actor, Growing Concerns Poetry Collective), Aymar Jean Christian (Open TV), Grace Deveney (curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago), Mykele Deville (musician, poet, Growing Concerns Poetry Collective), Sabrina Greig (arts writer, curator, Fry Foundation), Jeffreen Hayes (curator, arts writer, Threewalls), Morgan Elise Johnson (The Triibe), Jovan Landry (musician, filmmaker), Natalie Moore (WBEZ), Lee Ann Norman (arts writer), and avery r young (& de deacon board).

The event is presented as part of the Revisited/Reflected series.


This program is organized by Tempestt Hazel, an independent curator, writer, artists’ advocate, and founder and director of Sixty Inches From Center. The Revisited/Reflected series also includes Black FolkUs, Revisited (October 27) and is presented in conjunction with the Smart Museum of Art's exhibition The Time Is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago's South Side, 1960–1980 and Art Design Chicago, a citywide exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy.

Support for this program is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Illinois Humanities. Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly (through the Illinois Arts Council Agency), as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.


Image: Novelist Sam Greenlee and Alice Browning at the International Black Writers Conference 1978 (Photo by Barbara Cordell). Courtesy of Mapping the Stacks: A Guide to Chicago's Black HIdden Archives.