The Harlem Book Fair is an annual tradition for me. This Fair is one of my favorite “only in New York” experiences.
Produced by the Quarterly Black Review (QBR), the festive outdoor-indoor event featured great people-watching and educational opportunities where the most diverse famous and not so famous book lovers gather on two Harlem sidewalks to ogle Black books and authors of every genre. You will be amazed at how many different types of Black books are out there and the people you will recognize! Last year I saw TV1 anchor Cheryl Wills, actor Danny Glover and genealogy rock star Bernice Bennett of the radio show “From National Archives and Beyond.”
This year, I saw Sister Sonia Sanchez, Cornel West, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Schomburg’s new Executive Director and fellow Smith College classmate Dr. Jacqueline Sawyer with her nephew. The Fair is also a great way to make news friends. We can never meet enough new people who love books and words!
The side street of the Schomburg was where most of the venues were set up. Like last year, the Fair featured several performance stages for poetry, music, dance and theater and tents and tables for vendors.
For me the panels inside the Langston Hughes auditorium was a big draw. I wrote about the panel on ‘freedom’ on a separate post. There was a dynamic lineup of speakers including Sonia Sanchez, Cornell West, Ellis Close, George Fraser and Khalil Gibran Muhammad among many others. Of course the panel with Sonia and Cornel was packed and ran late, creating lines for next panel. But, the lines were orderly and friendly.
The topics range from race, Democracy, freedom, art, genius, family, food and more.
The authors’ panels can be seen on C-Span’s Book TV. The Fair scheduled activities for the young readers and parents, author panels, talks in the Langston Hughes Auditorium, Countee Cullen Library, American Negro Theater and scheduled stage performances. This annual event drew visitors from far and near not only for the books but also for shopping for a variety of Afro-centric clothing, crafts and food items. This was a fun and informative stay-cation activity to do!