Mission and Overview of the Center for Black Literature
The mission of the Center for Black Literature is to expand, broaden, and enrich the public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature. Through a series of programs that build an audience for the reading, discussion, and critical analysis of contemporary Black literature and that serve as a forum for the research and study of Black literature, the Center convenes and supports various literary programs and events such as author signings, conferences, panel discussions, symposia, and writing workshops. Its intellectual approach to programs and activities is an integrative one that focuses on the ways in which the literary arts and cultural values inform the work of Black writers and the ways in which these works influence the culture at large.
Through its collaborations with public schools and organizations such as the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture, the Brooklyn Literary Council, and the PEN American Center, the Center for Black Literature serves as a vehicle for nurturing and cultivating the critical reading and writing habits of a cross-generation of readers and writers and provides university, community and public institutions with various literary programs. Funding and support for Center programs have been provided by the public and private sector and include organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the New York Council on the Humanities, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the New-York Historical Society, Poets & Writers, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation, as well as support from local and state elected officials.
Founded in 2003 and spearheaded by Brenda M. Greene, Ph.D., the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, builds on the tradition and legacy of the National Black Writers Conference that began in 1986 and serves as a voice, mecca, and resource for Black writers and the general public to study the literature of people from the African Diaspora. It is the only Center devoted to this in the country.
Center for Black Literature Staff
Brenda M. Greene, Ph.D., Executive Director
Brenda M. Greene is professor of English and Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. Professor Greene’s research and scholarly work includes composition, African-American literature, and multicultural literature. She is editor of The African Presence and Influence on the Cultures of the Americas (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), a book of essays that focuses on the impact of Africa in the Americas from the perspectives of literature, language, music, dance, and psychology. She is coeditor of Resistance and Transformation: Conversations with Black Writers (Morton Books, 2010), Meditations and Ascensions: Black Writers on Writing (Third World Press, 2008), Redefining Ourselves, Black Writers in the Nineties (Peter Lang Publishers, 1999), and Rethinking American Literature (National Council of Teachers of English, 1997). Greene contributes essays and book reviews to Neworld Review. She holds a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in education from New York University and has extensive essays, grants, book reviews and presentations in English Studies.
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Clarence V. Reynolds, the Center’s director, joined the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, in 2010, as assistant director. He is coordinator of the National Black Writers Conference and editor of the Killens Review of Arts & Letters, the Center’s literary journal. He has also been an adjunct instructor in the English department at Medgar Evers College. Reynolds, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, holds a Master of Arts from the University of Baltimore and a BA from the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. He has worked as an editor and independent journalist focusing on African-American art, culture, and literature for more than a decade. His work has appeared in The Network Journal, where he was a staff writer and copy editor; Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; Mosaic magazine; and Contemporary Literary Criticism. He is a board member for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and has been a panelist at the Antigua and Barbados International Literary Festival. Reynolds is the editor of America I Am Journal, published by SmileyBooks, and is former managing editor of Black Issues Book Review magazine; and he has worked for numerous publications, including Discover magazine, B. Smith with Style, and Family Life. He was also co-owner of Café Pangea, a bistro-style restaurant in his hometown.
Maēshay k. Lewis, CBL’s executive assistant and logistics coordinator, has worked at the Center for Black Literature since 2006 and began working as a consultant through AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc., for the National Black Writers Conference (NBWC) in 2003. Born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn, Lewis became a student activist during her time at Thomas Jefferson High School during the Dinkins Administration. She earned her Associate Degree in applied science in journalism from Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, and holds a Bachelor of Science in culture and communications, with a focus in media criticism from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. While an undergrad, she held the title of press secretary for Hon. Roger L. Green’s Public Advocate Campaign and joined his Assembly Staff in 1998. As a student journalist in the 1990s, she served as a copy editor and acting managing editor for the student newspaper Scepter, at KCC, CUNY, and has written for the former tristate area publicationThe City Sun, a weekly African-American publication. As an activist she served as a facilitator teaching Nonviolent Conflict Resolution as prescribed by Dr. King and eventually as a program assistant for NYS NY Martin Luther King Jr. Commission for Nonviolence and New York Metropolitan Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence, respectively. This eventually led her to work for N.Y. Jobs with Justice and the N.Y. Unemployment Project. As a writer and spoken-word artist, she has performed and been featured in venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Café and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Center for Black Literature Advisory Board
Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams
Associate Executive Director
National Council of Teachers of English
Patrick A. Buddington
Chief Marketing Officer
IMC Communications Group
Richard Jones Jr.
Executive Chief of Staff
& Deputy to the President
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
President and CEO
New-York Historical Society
Vice President, Finance and Administration
City College of New York, CUNY
Lawrence Schiller Jr.
President and Co-Founder
The Norman Mailer Center
Writer, Goldberg Chair,
Department of Dramatic Writing
New York University
President, Personalized Skincare
John Edgar Wideman
Writer, ASA Messer
Professor of African
American Studies and English
Author, Anchor, Reporter
Time Warner Cable, NY1 News
For information about the Center contact:
Dr. Brenda M. Greene, Executive Director
Center for Black Literature