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Elizabeth Acevedo 

AUTHOR CANCELLED DUE TO FAMILY EMERGENCY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. She is also the author of With the Fire on High—which was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal—and Clap When You Land, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book and a Kirkus finalist. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her loves.

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Mahogany L. Browne 

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic. As the founder of the diverse lit initiative, Woke Baby Book Fair, Browne is excited to release her newest poetry collection responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children,  I Remember Death By Its Proximity to What I Love, as well as her upcoming young adult novel Vinyl Moon, a story of survival set under the Brooklyn skyline. Mahogany lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Vinson Cunningham

Vinson Cunningham is a staff writer and a theatre critic at The New Yorker. His essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, FADER, Vulture, The Awl, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Commonweal. In 2020, he was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for his profile of the comedian Tracy Morgan. A former White House staffer, he now teaches in the MFA Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City. His debut novel, Great Expectations, will be released on March 26th, 2024, by Hogarth Books.



Photo credit: Arielle Gray

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Shanelle Gabriel is an internationally touring artist, educator, and lupus warrior from Brooklyn, NY. Widely known for featuring on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, she has shared her fusion of poetry and singing on stages with artists such as Jill Scott, Nas, Nikki Giovanni, J.Ivy, Talib Kweli, and Grand Puba. She competed in the National and Individual World Poetry Slam Competitions, performed at The Vatican, and has penned and featured in poetry campaigns with Pandora Music, NFL Draft, LifeWtr, and more. She recently released her third album of poetry, Things I Need to Remember, and is the host of the Better Together Series on on living with Lupus. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Urban Word, a youth nonprofit that uses poetry & hip-hop to promote literacy and youth voice and is the founder of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. Learn more about her at

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Fatimah Gilliam

Fatimah Gilliam is an author, lawyer, consultant, public speaker, and entrepreneur whose career combines expertise in the law, diversity, human capital, leadership, stakeholder engagement, and negotiations. She’s the founder of The Azara Group, which provides diversity and inclusion, leadership development, negotiation, and strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 corporations, senior executives leading billion-dollar businesses, and industry thought leaders. She’s a graduate of Columbia Law School, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Wellesley College.  She volunteers for Election Protection, and her family has been in the United States for nearly 400 years and fought in every American war, including the American Revolution and Civil War. 

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B. Michael

Fashion designer B Michael found early design inspirations in his mother’s creativity and grandmother’s keen sense of style. In 1999 he developed and launched his first couture collection, under the priming of Fashion Industry Icon, Eleanor Lambert. B Michael’s collections have garnered appreciative fans including socialites and pop-culture personalities and legends such as Cicely Tyson, Valerie Simpson, Phylicia Rashad, Beyonce, Nancy Wilson, Susan Fales-Hill, Brandy, Lena Horne, among many others.  B Michael also designed Whitney Houston’s costumes for the motion picture, Sparkle, and ballet costumes for the Joffrey Ballet’s World Premier of Alexei Kremnev’s Windy Sands. 

In 1998, with the support of Oscar de la Renta, B Michael was granted membership in the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).  In 2019, B Michael became the first Black American luxury fashion designer to dress and Oscar recipient, longtime friend and muse Cicely Tyson for her history making red-carpet moment. In 2021, B Michael was honored by the National Congress of Black Women, during their thirty-seventh anniversary gala titled, Through It All Still Standing. In January 2024, B Michael’s first book was published, internationally by, Harper Collins. Titled: MUSE; Cicely Tyson And Me, A Relationship Forged In Fashion.  The book has received tremendous reviews and has been celebrated at the Smithsonian’s Museum of National African American History and Culture in Washington, DC and MET Store Gallery of The Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York City.

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Donovan X. Ramsey

Donovan X. Ramsey is a journalist, author, and an indispensable voice on issues of identity, justice, and patterns of power in America. His reporting has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, GQ, WSJ Magazine, Ebony, and Essence, among other outlets. He has been a staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times, NewsOne, and theGrio. He has served as an editor at The Marshall Project and Complex. Ramsey’s writing career has been focused entirely on amplifying the remarkable unheard stories of Black America. He believes in people-first narratives that center individuals and communities—not just issues. His memorable magazine work includes profiles of Andre 3000 for Citizen; Deion Sanders, Killer Mike, and Bubba Wallace for GQ; and Bryan Stevenson and Ibram Kendi for WSJ Magazine.

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Diane Richards

Diane Richards is the Executive Director of the Harlem Writers Guild and a writer, playwright, music producer. She is also a singer who cut her own album in the 1980s and performed backup for Whitney Houston. Like Ella, Diane won a talent competition that launched her career—singing Watch What Happens, a song made famous by Ella Fitzgerald. She lives in New York City.

Photo credit: Nancy Adler

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Alex Toussaint

Alex Toussaint, Peloton Instructor, PUMA Athlete, motivational speaker and acclaimed author is a titan of the fitness community sitting at the intersection of fitness, tech, music, sports, and entertainment. A hybrid of high-performance athlete and motivational coach, Alex is widely respected for his authenticity and positivity. Off the bike, Alex is committed to having a positive impact in his community. In 2020, Alex founded the Do Better Foundation whose mission is to democratize wellness by broadening access to wellness resources.


Tamara Payne

Tamara Payne is a Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X written with her father, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Les Payne. Prior to working on the book, Tamara worked in the media industry and real estate and graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Tamara worked at The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS for about one year. She then moved to China where she taught English for two years in Shandong Province. Upon her return from China, Les Payne invited her to work on the book. Tamara was the principal researcher while working in commercial real estate. After her father’s sudden passing in 2018, Tamara made it her purpose to finish his life’s work. The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X has won several awards including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, NAACP Image Award, and The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center Vanguard Award. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Biographers International Organization (BIO).

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Tanisha C. Ford

Tanisha C. Ford is a historian, cultural theorist and the author of four books. Her most recent book, Our Secret Society: Mollie Moon and the Glamour, Money, and Power Behind the Civil Rights Movement (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2023). won the 2024 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work of Biography/Autobiography. The book received Honorable Mention for the Organization of American Historians’ coveted Darlene Clark Hine Award for Best Book on African American Women’s and Gender History, and was also named one of Vanity Fair’s and Ms. Magazine’s Best Books of 2023. Ford’s three other books are Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (UNC Press, 2015), winner of the OAH Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for Best Book on Civil Rights History; Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion (St. Martin’s, 2019); and Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019). She is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer, whose research has been supported by institutions including New America/Emerson Collective, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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Gretchen Gerzina

Gretchen Gerzina is the author or editor of nine books, including Black England: A Forgotten Georgian History, Black Victorians/Black Victoriana, and Britain’s Black Past, the latter based on her BBC Radio Four series of the same name. Her other books include Mr. and Mrs. Prince, about the formerly enslaved Lucy Terry and her husband Abijah Prince, and was nominated for the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. She is the Paul Murray Kendall Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which recently awarded her the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor they give a faculty member. She appears frequently on British and American radio and podcasts, and is the recipient of a number of prestigious grants, including Fulbright, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Guggenheim. She has been elected to the American Antiquarian Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she also serves on the Board of Directors of the Biographers International Organization (BIO).


Leslie-Ann Murray

Leslie-Ann Murray is a fiction writer from Trinidad & Tobago. She created Brown Girl Book Lover, a social media platform where she interviews diverse writers and reviews books that should be at the forefront of our imagination. She also produces a monthly newsletter, Come Get Your Diversity. Leslie-Ann is currently working on her first novel, This Has Made Us Beautiful. Leslie-Ann has been published in Poets & Writers, Zone 3, Ploughshares, Brittle Paper, Obsidian Literary Magazine, and Salamander Literary Magazine. Leslie-Ann has taught creative writing in France, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, China, and New York City. Source

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Lana Turner

Lana Turner, a native of New York’s Harlem, is a reader, writer, thinker and researcher with a keen interest in the elements of art and style in black culture and why this meditation matters.

Ms. Turner works as a real estate professional, archivist, and produces chamber music salons and literary events.  She is co-founder and chair of The Literary Society (1982), a New York City book discussion group based in Harlem.  

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Eric K Washington

Eric K. Washington is an independent scholar and author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal. His biography about a once prominent Harlem-based railroad labor figure won Columbia University’s Herbert H. Lehman Prize and the Guides Association of New York City’s GANYC Apple Award, and was a specially recognized finalist for the Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize. Eric is a past fellow of — and has been a judge for — CUNY’s Leon Levy Center for Biography; Columbia’s A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholars Program; and the Brown Foundation’s Dora Maar House Residency in France. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Biographers International Organization (BIO), and spearheads its annual $5,000 Frances “Frank” Rollin Fellowship for a biographical work-in-progress about an African American figure or figures. He is now at work on a biography of early 20th-century Harlem actor Richard Huey, as well as a group biography centered around Manhattan’s (Former) Colored School No. 4, the 19th-century building he was instrumental in getting New York City to designate an official landmark last year.

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Aaliyah Bilal

Aaliyah Bilal was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She has degrees from Oberlin College and the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. She’s published stories and essays with The Michigan Quarterly Review and The Rumpus. Temple Folk is her first short story collection.

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Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis is the author of THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE (Knopf, 2012) and most recently, THE UNSETTLED (Knopf, 2023) which was named a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2023, a best of 2023 by The New Yorker, Publisher’s Weekly, an Oprah Daily Best Novels of 2023, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2023. The New York Times calls it, “Poignant, heartbreaking,” while The Minneapolis Star Tribune describes it as, “An ardent, ambitious, and carefully stitched tapestry of a novel, one that deserves and rewards our attention.”


Jonell Joshua

Jonell Joshua is an Author/Illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her passion for drawing has deep roots stemming from a young age, inspired by her mother’s artwork, familial roots in New York and adolescence spent in the heart of South Jersey and Savannah, Georgia. Her professional work has explored a range of topics in editorial illustration and publication, including illustrating for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, The Queens of the Resistance series, and work featured in the film Selah and the Spades. She has worked with clients including The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and NPR. Her work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators and American Illustration: International Motion Art Awards and her debut illustrated memoir, How Do I Draw These Memories?, released everywhere on April 16 2024.


Omar Holmon

Omar Holmon is a culture critic, performer, internet archaeologist, and known for co-founding the popular website Black Nerd Problems. He is co-author of 'Black Nerd Problems: Essays' collection and author of 'We Were All Someone Else Yesterday' poetry collection. There's nothing Omar loves more than writing essays / creating content about niche and obscure moments in pop culture across all genres. From comic books and anime to movies and television shows you should be watching, Omar has bars for them all in person and online.

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Fanta Ballo

Fanta Ballo is a motivational sSpeaker, an award-winning Spoken Word Artist and the Author of poetry book, “For All The Things I Never Got To Say”. Fanta ignites the flame of possibility in the hearts of the young and the young at heart. She performed at the Global Citizens Festival opening for Shawn Mendez, at a Juneteenth event hosted by the NYC Mayor and his wife, at a youth mental health conference for UNICEF, at the Earthshot Prize Summit for Bloomberg Philanthropies and other high profile events awarded the first ever Wonder Grant from the Shawn Foundation.


Trace Howard DePass

Trace Howard DePass is the author of self-portrait as the space between us (PANK 2018) & BOOTless → (Diode Editions 2024). His work has been featured with Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, NPR’s The Takeaway, SAND, Entropy, Split This Rock, Poetry Project, Bettering American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. DePass is a fellow with Poets House, Obsidian, and Teachers & Writers.

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Anastacia-Reneé is an award-winning cross-genre queer writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDX speaker and former Seattle Civic Poet. She is the author of Side Notes from the Archivist, (v.), and Forget It. Her mixed media art has been exhibited at the Fry Art Museum and her installation, “Don’t Be Absurd (Alice in Parts),” was chosen by NBC as one of the “Queer Artist of Color Must See LGBTQ Arts Shows.” She has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, Ragdale, Mineral School and others. Renee'’s  poetry, fiction and nonfiction has been anthologized and published widely.


Yaribel Mercedes, Ed.D

Yaribel Mercedes, Ed.D Yaribel is a writer, published author, scholar, practitioner, advocate, and educator leadings through a social, racial, and moral justice leadership disposition. She advances racial equity and access in education through the production and dissemination of Live Brunch Sundays where she creates space for the work of Black folx, especially Black women practioners and scholars. She has interviewed New York Times Best Selling author Bettina L. Love, anthropologist and author Marc Lamont Hill, author and poet, Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, poet Dhayana Alejandria, and countless others. She is also a daily contributor to HipHopED, a community that empowers and reimagines the relationship between Hip-Hop and education. In 2023, she was inducted into the Barbara Jackson Scholars network by the University Council for Educational Administrators. A Black woman, mother, and daughter Yaribel understands the impact of race in education. Her passion and purpose are rooted in her commitment to disrupt racist and oppressive systems, structures, and policies that create barriers for Black, Indigenous, racialized students of colors’ thriving. Yaribel believes in the brilliance of every child and works alongside school communities to cultivate curiosity, knowledge, intellect, and skills for all students to achieve at the highest level. Yaribel holds a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in Organization and Leadership. Her dissertationfocused on Critically Race-Conscious and Responsive Leadership as a Site of Resistance. 

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Rich Blint

Rich Blint is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Departments of English and Creative Writing and African and African American Studies at Dartmouth College. He is co-editor of a special issue of African American Review on James Baldwin, as well as African American Literature in Transition, 1980-1990 (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Upcoming books include A Radical Interiority: James Baldwin and the Personified Self in Modern American Culture, Approaches to Teaching the Work of James Baldwin, and Duppy Umbrella and Other Stories. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Bomb Magazine, African American Review, James Baldwin Review, Anthropology Now, The Believer, McSweeney's, and the Handbook of Literary Ethics, among other publications. He serves on the Executive Board of African American Review and is a contributing editor to James Baldwin Review. He has held academic and administrative appointments at Columbia University, Barnard College, and the New School.  


Cara Hill

Cara Hill is Educator Development Specialist for the Schomburg Curriculum, a new initiative linking educators and students to the Schomburg Center archives.  Cara is a seasoned educator with extensive work in DEI, including professional development workshops at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference.  She holds a Masters of Arts in English Education from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Concentration in African American Studies from Princeton University.  



bio partner

The 2024 Schomburg Center Literary Festival is powered by Puma

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Biographers International Organization (BIO) is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the art and craft of biography, cultivate a diverse community of biographers, encourage public interest in biography, and provide educational and fellowship opportunities that support the work of biographers worldwide. Its numerous programs, activities and awards to support aspiring and practicing biographers include the $5,000 Frances “Frank” Rollin Fellowship for a biography-in-progress on an African American figure or figures. For additional information, please visit  

Presenting BIOGRAPHIES @ 2:15 PM. Click HERE to see on the schedule


The Moth is true stories, told live and without notes. We celebrate the ability of true, personal storytelling to illuminate both the diversity and commonality of human experience. Our work allows people all over the world and from all walks of life: astronauts, students, a dental hygienist, a hotdog eating champion, a mechanic, exonerated prisoners, veterans, Nobel laureates and everyone in between, to share their stories on stage in front of a live audience. Through live and virtual shows, storytelling workshops, a podcast, Peabody Award-winning Radio Hour, and New York Times Best Selling books, The Moth brings the power of personal storytelling to millions of people each year—creating community and building empathy around the world.

Presenting PERSONAL STORYTELLING WORKSHOP @ 2 PM. Click HERE to see on the schedule

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WOKE BABY BOOK FAIR Since the insecption of the Schomburg Center's Literary Festival in 2019, the WOKE BABY! Book Fair has been a key partner in presenting to young readers. Dr. Mahogany L. Browne, is the founder of the diverse lit initiative and curator for the festival within the festival featuring young poets, readers of fan favorite book in the african diaspora, and musicians.  The book Woke Baby is a lyrical and empowering book which both celebrates what it means to be a baby and what it means to be woke. With bright playful art, Woke Baby is an anthem of hope in a world where the only limit to a skyscrapper is more blue.



Sojourners for Justice Press is a micro press that opens its platform to people working experimentally with print based media. We publish short form and ephemeral zines, pamphlets, and booklets that engage do-it-yourself, black feminist, and abolitionist philosophies. Source:

Sojourners for Justice Press are the presenters of the Black Zine Fair in the Marketplace from 11-6pm

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