Celebrating 40 Years of the History of Black Writing!

Fahamu Pecou, "Parable of the Sower: Oya’s Dream," 2023, acrylic, canvas, Courtesy of Dr. Fahamu Pecou.
Fahamu Pecou, "Parable of the Sower: Oya’s Dream," 2023, acrylic, canvas, Courtesy of Dr. Fahamu Pecou.

Recognizing Four Decades of Recovery, Preservation, Programming, and Community

Since 1983, the History of Black Writing (HBW) has been dedicated to the study of the Black book, specifically the novel. During these 40 years HBW has committed its efforts toward literary recovery, digital preservation and access, and innovative programming, and today it is regarded as a supportive intellectual community for matriculating students as well as scholars and professionals invested in African American literature and culture. The center and its archives were founded at the University of Mississippi and have been located at the University of Kansas since 1998. At these institutional homes HBW has promoted inclusion and collaboration at all levels of higher education and related professional research practices. Its ongoing mission is to foster dialogues about the past, present, and future of Black writing to help sustain the reading, study, and teaching of this work. The center and its archives also aim to generate new knowledge meaningful for understanding and affirming Black culture and life.

HBW kicked off its 40th anniversary celebration with a plenary session at the January 2023 Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in San Francisco, California followed by a forum and reception with the authors of recent Black biographies at the April meeting of the College Language Association (CLA) convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

The celebration continued with Black Writing, an art exhibit curated in collaboration with the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. The exhibit opened August 19, 2023 and will run through January 7, 2024. Black Writing features artworks and multimedia by contemporary artists that incorporate literature, lyrics, family lore, and reading as well as a reading room and interactive stations where visitors can explore the history of HBW and its work in the digital humanities.

Upcoming events include a conversation about Black women writers on November 13 and a marathon reading of KU’s 2023 Common Book Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler on November 28-29 and more. Check back here often, or follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook to learn about the details of these upcoming events.

Interested in supporting HBW's work? Donate here.

To learn more about HBW, visit our About page or explore the main menu to the left