By: Howard University
WASHINGTON – Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is reviving The National Writers Conferences with a new iteration, The International Black Writers Festival from September 27-29. Originally hosted by Howard University’s Institute for Arts and Humanities between 1974 and 1983, this will be the center’s second year hosting the latest rendition of the festival jointly with the Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard University.
“This is a repository about Black people around the world, controlled by Black people from around the world and we decide what is important. We decide what is significant, we decide the collections that we hold, and we control the space. That distinction is worth homing in on and meditating on” said Benjamin Talton, Ph.D., director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
Founded in 1910 as the Moorland Foundation of Moorland Library, and organized as The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in 1973, it is the largest privately owned library on the global Black experience in the world. It serves as a library and research hub for manuscripts, photography, and historical archives of the African diaspora.
Talton was introduced to the center as a student in the 90s. Student researchers focusing on history, political science, African American studies, etc. all gathered in Moorland-Spingarn to access knowledge of the Black diaspora seldom found elsewhere. The center housed archives, papers, collections, and virtually any book ever written by or about Black people.
“The center was always packed when I was a student in the nineties. You never knew who you were going to encounter, or what scholars or graduate students were hanging out in there. So, the energy was amazing and there was a lot of synergy in there,” said Talton.
For this year’s festival, Talton has gathered Black academics and thinkers from around the world to join in conversation about banned books and other salient topics. Prolific writers Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Mikki Kendall, and more will appear on panels during the festival. Essential to the international theme of the event, Black writers from Europe, the Caribbean, and Spanish-speaking countries were invited.
Howard University will launch its official university podcast HU2U on September 18. We sat down with Talton for an in-depth conversation on this year’s festival. Visit The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center’s website for more information.