“This loud Black woman shall speak now. You silence me in fear that what I have to say will teach you. You silence me in fear that what I have to say will reach you. You censor me though my points are universal…” With these words, just after 6pm (ET) on Friday, June 19, Nicole M. Young, a well known Spoken Word artist and cultural commentator in Western MA, began a Facebook live event to celebrate 155 years of Juneteenth.
The event, themed ‘Black Writers Read’ brought together 17 writers from Western MA and around the country to read work that reflected upon the history of Black people in the US in those 155 years and the energy of the moment in the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black People around the United States.
About 60 people watched the 3-hour event live and the Facebook video has now received over 1,000 views.
Delanda Coleman (Boston, MA) opened line-up with a reading of her children’s book, ‘More than a Princess,’ which she says was inspired by her daughter.
“I didn’t want to read stories about princesses to her anymore,” she said. In the book, a little princess is whisked away into a future time where she sees all the amazing things she can do with her life.
Ed Lubin, a UMass alum, was up next. He read three poems, the first of which reflected on the state of children left behind when their black fathers are killed by the police, and the following two on police brutality.
Christopher J. Sparks (Northampton, MA), who founded Valley Society, a social group to support Black writers in the Pioneer Valley, read a poem called ‘The Talk‘ which was inspired by his trying to imagine how he would explain the issues of race to children.
Other writers on the line up were Andrea Priest (Killean, TX), Kent Alexander (Northampton, MA), Shacoria ‘Corey’ Baldwin (Springfield, MA), Delanda Coleman (Dorchester, MA), Rejjia Camphor (Baltimore, MD), Elytheiya (South Bronx, NY), Opal Galye (Providence, RI), Teka Lark (New York, NY), Hala A.K.A. Heather A. Lord (Amherst, MA), Pearl Manus (Holyoke, MA), Brianna Pope (Brooklyn, NY), Lia Russell-Self (Canaan, NY), Maryam A. Sullivan (Chicopee, MA), Dinah Tutein (Rockwood, MI) and Carmen Wilson (Seattle, WA).
‘Black Writers Read’ was put together by a number of writers in Western Massachusetts and was hosted by Attack Bear Press and Valley Society.
In spreading the word about the event, the organizers were assisted by Easthampton City Arts, EastWorks, Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Emily Dickinson Museum, Emily Williston Library, New England Public Radio, Straw Dog Writers Guild, Slate Roof Press, Aiden Street Review and Bard.
“I’m loud because my sisters are hurting. I’m loud because anytime someone hurts us, we’re told to be quiet, that our pain is just a made up fable. I’m loud because we’re there first to receive poor medical treatment and to be beaten or murdered by lovers and at the same time told that we are served and that it is our fault. I’m loud because my people have been silence for century and yet always forced to carry the load. ” – Nicole M. Young
PICTURE: Shacoria ‘Corey’ Baldwin of Springfield MA reads poetry during the event.