Austin African American Book Festival

Biographer Arnold Rampersad headlines the eighth edition, focusing on inspiration for change

Dr. Arnold Rampersad
Dr. Arnold Rampersad

"Lift up your eyes upon/ This day breaking for you./ Give birth again/ To the dream."

So wrote the late Maya Angelou in "On the Pulse of Morning," and like so much of what this wise author and poet gave to us, the words leave us awash in inspiration.

Small wonder, then, that a session on Dr. Angelou will kick off this year's Austin African American Book Festival, which takes as its theme "We Have Tomorrow: Black Literature as Inspiration for Change." The eighth edition, taking place Saturday, 10am-4pm, at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, will focus on authors, cultural leaders, and political figures who were transformed by the writings of African-Americans or whose writings transformed others. For more information, visit

10am: Remembering the Phenomenal Maya!

Award-winning Austin actor Carla Nickerson (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) leads this session wherein attendees are invited to share stories of Maya Angelou's influence in their lives and to reflect on her work. Carver Library

11am: Keynote Address: Dr. Arnold Rampersad

The National Humanities medalist and biographer of W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and Jackie Robinson discusses their lives and contributions. Museum Theater

Noon: Local Author Showcase

Willie Sue Anderson of KAZI hosts local authors reading from and discussing their work. Carver Library

1pm: Sen. David Jordan

The Mississippi senator discusses his autobiography, From the Mississippi Cotton Fields to the State Senate, a Memoir. Museum Drum

2pm: Skype Talk With Dr. Peniel E. Joseph

Via Skype, Dr. Mark Cunningham interviews the author of Stokely: A Life about the continued relevance of Stokely Carmichael's ideas. Museum Theater

3pm: Discussion: The New Jim Crow

UT psychology professor Kevin Cokley leads a discussion of Michelle Alexander's book, which draws parallels between the current mass-incarcerations of African-Americans and Jim Crow laws. Carver Library

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The 2014 Austin African American Book Festival, Carver Museum and Cultural Center, Carla Nickerson, Kevin Cokley, Willie Sue Anderson, Arnold Rampersad, Peniel E. Joseph, David Jordan

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