The HU Writer’s Festival and Preserving the Black Experience feat. Dr. Benjamin Talton

Season 1 | Episode 1
29m | Sep 18, 2023

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center is the largest and most comprehensive repository of books, documents, and ephemera on the global Black experience, including the personal and official papers of Kwame Nkrumah, Paul Robeson, Elaine Locke, Mary Francis Berry, and many, many others.

2 years ago, a class of 1996 Howard Alumnus returned to campus to lead the center. Amongst the many ways he's rejuvenating it is by establishing an international black writers festival. 

Dr. Benjamin Talton is an African studies scholar and author, and Director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) at Howard University. He's also the lead organizer for the MSRCs International Black Writers Festival, which will take place September 26th - 29th 2023.

Host Kweli Zukeri and Dr. Talton discuss the work of the research center in this episode, banning books, how the MSRCs International Black Writers Festival came to be, why we gather, and everything coming up at this years event.

From HU2U is a production of Howard University and is produced by University FM.

Episode Quotes:

Defining the future through MSRC

[04:51] When people have weaponized history, of course, our history has always been under attack. But we are, in large part, defined by our history. So controlling that is very important. So more than it is significant because we decide: "Okay, these are the books; these are the archives." This is what's significant for understanding the global black experience, that's important for the past but also important for the present. But then, also in terms of the future, we decide what new collections and books will be there. So not only saying the past defines us but we're also defining the future. And so I feel that we're in a very powerful position.

Fostering empowerment through africana-centric education

[25:50] We live in a society where policy and culture have been shaped and framed around disempowering us beyond symbolics…[26:06] But when you have institutions catered toward educating people of African descent for them and by them, the change is evident.

Bringing black intellectual thought to the forefront

[15:38] This year, I felt rather than just having amazing writers in conversation, I wanted to be deliberate about the theme to have everyone think about meditating on a particular idea, going back to the germ of the festival, which was bringing conversations among writers, activists, and scholars in conversations at Howard to make Howard the center of black intellectual thought.

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