OUR 2021 AUTHORS & PARTICIPANTS

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Discuss Social Reform & Voting Rights | 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Desmond Meade

Voting Rights Activist

“You may think the right to vote is a small matter, and if you do, I would bet you have never had it taken away from you.” Thus begins the story of Desmond Meade and his inspiring journey to restore voting rights to roughly 1.4 million returning citizens in Florida—resulting in a stunning victory in 2018 that enfranchised the most people at once in any single initiative since women’s suffrage.

Let My People Vote is the deeply moving, personal story of Meade’s life, his political activism, and the movement he spearheaded to restore voting rights to returning citizens who had served their terms. Meade survived a tough childhood only to find himself with a felony conviction. Finding the strength to pull his life together, he graduated summa cum laude from college, graduated from law school, and married. But because of his conviction, he was not even allowed to sit for the bar exam in Florida. And when his wife ran for state office, he was filled with pride—but not permitted to vote for her.

Meade takes us on a journey from his time in homeless shelters, to the exhilarating, joyful night in November of 2018, when Amendment 4 passed with 65 percent of the vote. Meade’s story, and his commitment to a fully enfranchised nation, will prove to readers that one person really can make a difference.

 

THURSDAY, JULY 15TH

"Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America." | 6:30PM -7:30PM

Candacy Taylor

Author

Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian working on a multidisciplinary project based on the Green Book. She is the author of the bestselling book, Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (Abrams Books). Taylor is also the curator and content specialist for the exhibition, The Negro Motorist Green Book which is being toured by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) from 2020 to 2024.

Taylor was a fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University under the direction of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and her projects have been funded by numerous organizations including, The Library of Congress, National Geographic, The American Council of Learned Societies, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Park Service, The National Trust, and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Taylor’s work has been featured in over 80 media outlets including The Atlantic, CBS Sunday Morning, The Guardian UK, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek, PBS Newshour, and The Wall St. Journal. Taylor lives in Harlem, New York.
www.taylormadeculture.com/the-green-book

                

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Caribbean Women in Literature | 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Cherie Jones

Writer

Cherie Jones 'Cherie Jones is a writer, lawyer and single mom who lives in Barbados. Her short fiction has been published in PANK, The Feminist Wire, Eclectica and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Cherie is a past fellowship awardee of the Vermont Studio Centre and received her MA in Writing (with distinction) from Sheffield Hallam University (UK) where she was awarded the Archie Markham Fellowship and the A. M. Heath Prize. "How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House" is her first novel.

Cherie Jones
FB / IG @cheriejoneswrites
TWTR: @csajthewriter

FRIDAY, JULY 16TH

EAT . DRINK . READ
Taste the Islands | 6:00PM -7:00PM

Chef Irie

Executive Chef

Chef Irie Hugh Sinclair, a.k.a. Chef Irie, the Global Culinary Architect, is the Executive Chef of Chef Irie Spice Inc. - Personal Chef and Catering Services, providing services to the tri-county area of South East Florida. Chef Irie hails from the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, where he grew up on a sugar estate, Caymanas Estate. Before settling in Florida, Hugh first migrated with his family to New York. He completed his college career at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida earning a BS from the renowned School of Architecture.
www.chefirie.com
YTB . TWTR . LNKDN @chefirie
FB @chefiriespice

 

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Women in Romance | 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Danielle Allen

Novelist

Danielle Allen is a novelist, professor, and life coach. Living authentically has been the key to her living her best life. With a background in social sciences, helping people better understand themselves so they can become the best version of themselves is one of her passions. Writing contemporary romance novels that change the status quo of the genre is another.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

"Open Water" | 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Caleb Azumah Nelson

Writer / Photographer

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a British-Ghanian writer and photographer living in South East London. His writing has been published in Litro and he was recently shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Award and the Palm Photo Prize and won the People’s Choice prize. Open Water is his first novel.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Women in Romance | 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Talia Hibbert

Author

Talia Hibbert is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalized identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Book Stores: A Losing Battle or New Beginning? | 3:00PM - 4:00PM

Féquière Vilsaint

Publisher, Author

Féquière Vilsaint:  Publisher, Author, Lexicographer, Molecular Biologist. Mr. Vilsaint was born in Haiti and began his early education there. After high school he migrated to Montreal, Canada, where he studied biology at Concordia University (BSc) then went on to graduate school in Quebec City (Université Laval) and in Medford, Massachusetts (Tuft University), obtaining advanced degrees in Biochemistry and Biotechnology respectively. Mr. Vilsaint’s early career as a researcher focused on renewable energy science at McGill University and aqua-culture infrastructure evaluation (fish, shrimp, algae) in Haiti and the Caribbean. He later moved to Florida to work at the University of South Florida (USF) in the Medical School’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. At USF, he did research on the metabolism of cholesterol in the liver, using rat liver as a model. This ground breaking research at the Kennedy-Keller Laboratory would later lead to the development of successful chemicals to control cholesterol in humans.

In 1991 Mr. Vilsaint, started Edua Vision, Inc., (EVI), www.educavision.com, a publishing company that develops and publishes bilingual educational material in Haitian Creole, English and French. Mr. Vilsaint speaks English, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish and reads German and Portuguese. He started the company while still a researcher at the University of South Florida (USF) and eventually left USF to expand EVI.

Presently, Mr. Fequiere Vilsaint devotes his time to curriculum development, publishing of educational materials in Haitian Creole, teacher training, lexicography and consultancy with the Ministry of Education in Haiti and other organizations.
He is also founding member of The Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Women in Romance | 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Therese Beharrie

Author

Being an author has always been Therese’s dream. But it was only when the corporate world loomed during her final year at university that she realized how soon she wanted that dream to become a reality. So she got serious about her writing, entered the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write competition and got the attention of an editor. Now she writes books she wants to see in the world featuring people who look like her for a living. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her husband and dogs in Cape Town, South Africa.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Women in Romance | 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Vanessa Riley

Writer

Vanessa Riley writes Historical Fiction and Historical Romance (Georgian, Regency, & Victorian) featuring hidden histories, dazzling multi-culture communities, and strong sisterhoods. She promises to pull heart strings, offer a few laughs, and share tidbits of tantalizing history. This Southern, Irish, Trini girl holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a MS in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She also earned a BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. Yet, her love of history and lattes have overwhelmed her passion for math, leading to the publication of over 20+ titles.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Discuss Social Reform & Voting Rights | 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Jasmen Rogers

Activist

Jasmen Rogers (she/her/hers), Founder and Principal Visionary at Folding Chair Consulting, has worked for several years at the intersection of racial and gender justice, advancing legislation that centers Black women, co-creating curriculum that makes the political process accessible, and building a base of women of color committed to Reproductive Justice. Jasmen has worked collaboratively across the state of Florida to build a
cadre of state legislators dedicated to reproductive freedom and has curated several spaces that have brought together over 3,000 Black women
and girls to build a shared political agenda, rooted in reproductive justice. She is a former Florida House of Representatives candidate, has appealed to the United Nations on behalf of families impacted by police violence, worked with formerly incarcerated women to pass legislation, worked to build Black/African-American outreach on a presidential campaign, and equipped organizations with the tools to dismantle anti-Blackness.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Talk Children’s Books | 10:00AM – 11:00AM

Chancel Cooper

Entrepreneur

My passion for marketing started well before I was a marketer. While in high school, I'd create posters promoting the upcoming football and basketball games. Working retail in college, I remember learning how to entice a customer to buy more than intended. So I've been on the path of marketing for quite some time. Why? Because I love observing people's behaviors and customizing campaigns that resonate with their experiences. That's what I'm currently doing with my own company Cool Moms Club. A lifestyle brand designed specifically for dope moms looking for affordable apparel, accessories and home goods that celebrate life as a mom.
Outside of work, I'm (horribly) singing backup for my 4 year old daughter, or being challenged to a game of chess against my 7 year old son. I love shopping -- like really love shopping, and I'm enjoying my (extremely) new role as a podcaster for 'Mommy Talk'.

Let's connect. Follow my journey on Instagram @coolmomsclubstore.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Talk Children’s Books | 10:00AM – 11:00AM

Bianca Ukah

Childrens Author

Bianca Ukah is an eight year old author of the Binky The Mermaid book series and inventor of Binky The Mermaid doll. Her first book “Binky The Mermaid: The Fintastic Race” was published when she was only four years old and teaches kids to always believe in themselves and to never give up. Her second book “Binky The Mermaid: The Magical Fairy” drives home the lesson that you don’t need magic to be kind.
You can follow her on FB and IG @binkythemermaid

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let My People Vote! | 12:00PM – 1:00PM

Stichiz

Artist

Stichiz is reputable for her stage presence and powerful, prodigious personality, as well as being a widely known voice on the radio airwaves. Being born in Canada, primarily growing up in America, and being raised by Haitian parents has instilled a strong sense of community in Stichiz.  As a community leader she currently serves as an On-Air host, known as "The Mid Day Bae" and official female voice of Miami’s Urban radio station-WMIB’s 103.5 The Beat FM weekdays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Previously heard on the longest running contemporary hit music station across the U.S., WHYI Y100 - Miami, Stichiz can now also be heard on other iHeart Radio stations throughout the United States; Detroit, Nashville, Atlanta, Texas, and Jacksonville to name a few. Stichiz' undeniable passion for music is apparent when she interacts with people. Stichiz has a distinctive voice that cannot be mistaken with another’s.

Stichiz shares her passion and her love for Christ and people through community involvement. She empowers the young and old to be inspired and spread love in the best ways possible. Stichiz is the former President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP Youth and College Division. Stichiz is a current Youth Board Member for the Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee where she re-established the ‘MLK Teen Summit’, and created the annual “Change Yourself Before You Change Me” Youth Trailblazers Award; an award that recognizes various students within our

community making a difference and those who might have a had a rough start, but have made a 180 change within their life and or the lives of others. Stichiz also serves as one of the Board Directors for Girls Make Beats- a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young Girls by expanding the female presence of DJ’s, Music Producers and Audio Engineers. Stichiz is also an ambassador for Literacy Connect INC. and Jewels4MyLocs, and the founder of Project T.E.A.C.H.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Discuss Social Reform & Voting Rights | 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Joe Scott

Supervisor Of Elections

Joe Scott is a graduate from West Point and was awarded the Bronze Star as an Army Captain and combat leader in Iraq.  His MBA and 20 years of combined military and technology leadership experience gives him the unique skill sets required, to unify different communities and stakeholders to improve the voting experience in Broward, and to effectively build the team and capabilities needed to ensure fair voting for all.

John Lewis said, "We must ensure every vote and every voter counts." It is Joe’s passion to ensure this American foundational principle will be realized for all eligible voters, for all citizens, whether they are natural born, naturalized, or returning citizens, regardless of party affiliation or background. He cares deeply about electoral accuracy and reform, the elimination of administrative obstacles and intimidation tactics that historically have created and perpetuated voter suppression, and transparency for accountability in government at every operating level.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Black Book Stores: A Losing Battle or New Beginning? | 3:00PM - 4:00PM

Akbar Watson

Pyramid Bookstore

Akbar James Watson is the owner / director of Pyramid Books, Inc. located in Boynton Beach, Fl. Pyramid Books was one of the largest African centered bookstores in the country. The store specialized in providing books and related materials that enhance knowledge of the African diaspora. Mr. Watson has been in business for over 25 years and has become a major source of information about the African and African American ethos. Mr. Watson also has secured book/material contracts with the U.S. Government, the State of Florida, numerous school districts, libraries and others who vie for his services. Mr. Watson has received numerous awards and citations for his leadership and mentorship with south county youth and adults. Some of these awards include: The “NAACP Economic Leadership Award”, the “Delta Sigma Theta Men of Excellence Award”, and the “Keepers of the Dream” award from the “Oscar Thomas Foundation and Nova Southeastern University.

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

FUNK! | 10:00AM – 11:00AM

Tony Bolden

Professor

Tony Bolden is Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at The University of Kansas where he teaches and writes about Black music, literature, and political issues. The editor of The Langston Hughes Review, Bolden’s publications include Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture (2004), which examines blues theory and Black resistance poetry; The Funk Era and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture (2008), an edited collection of essays; “The Funk Issue” (2013), a book-length, guest-edited special issue of American Studies that includes eleven articles as well as poems, paintings, and photos on the theme of funk; and his new book Groove Theory: The Blues Foundation of Funk. Bolden is currently completing his book tentatively titled, “Funk Poetics: New Directions in Black Literary Studies.”

SATURDAY, JULY 17TH

Let’s Talk Children’s Books | 10:00AM – 11:00AM

Latanga Horne

Professor

Latanga Horne is a high school administrator in Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Specific Learning Disabilities. Ms. Horne also holds certifications in Educational Leadership, Reading, and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Ms. Horne has an extensive background as an educator. In addition to working as an Instructional Facilitator and teaching at the elementary, middle and high school levels, she worked as an Adjunct Instructor where she taught Educational Theories, Exceptional Student Education and Teaching Reading Strategies courses at Barry University.  Ms. Horne also owned and operated a Reading Tutoring Program for six years.

Ms. Horne currently resides in Florida and is the mother of a young adult son. She loves reading and believes that “Reading is the foundation of Life”. Her routine of reading to her son began during pregnancy thus, encouraging him to become a life long reader.  “Sorry Puppy, This Is Not Your House” is a recreation of a book written by her son as an assignment for his middle school English class. Ms. Horne enjoys teaching and playing tennis.

This event is made possible by the support of