Yesterdays special event, put on by local media group Bmorenews.com, brought together some of the areas finest publicists and authors, including the largest black-owned press company in the country – Black Classic Press. The publishers of famed authors such as Walter Mosley, J.A. Rogers and Amiri Baraka, BCP was represented well by the legendary, Natalie Stokes-Peters – representing its founder, Paul Coates.
Founded in 1978, BCP's mission was devoted to publishing obscure, yet significant, works written for, of and by people of African descent. Specializing in republishing classic works such as John Jackson and Willis Huggins 1938 book, Introduction to African Civilizations; BCP felt it their duty to extend the memory of their people in what they believed were important knowledge through books that have helped shape the Black diasporic experience – and their understanding of the world in which we live.
Jackson was among three elders who were inspired and supportive of Coates' efforts, each contributing in their own special way to appeal to the masses through reason as to why they should support the publishing efforts of BCP – one of their own. John Henrik Clarke and Yosef ben-Jochannan, along with Jackson, were critical in the advancement of making BCP the leading black-owned publishing house that it has become today.
And beyond just their support of local authors through a more inexpensive process of publishing, they also reach out to young and aspiring authors to teach them the do's and dont's of the business – as they did yesterday.
And while their spiel was gratefully received by young, dedicated and hungry authors like Tyeisha Downer and her business partner and journalistic colleague Dreas Chimera, it was even more consumed by seasoned veterans such as renowned political consultant and historian, Larry Gibson.
Serving as the keynote speaker and author who is currently on a worldwide book tour promoting his latest piece, 'Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice'; the man responsible for putting more politicians in elected office in the past 30-years than any one political hacke this side of the Mississippi, has found a renewed passion for teaching the true story of Baltimore's own, Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Gibson, a professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore, is responsible for having Maryland's major airport BWI, named after America's first African American Supreme Court Justice (the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport); and has made it his personal mission to uplift the man who is arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century.
Marshall, who transformed this nation, and its legal landscape, when he challenged the racial segregation laws that had relegated millions of minorities to that of second-class citizenship; successfully arguing one of the most talked about and known decisions in the 20th century, Brown v Board of Education.
The former NAACP legal counsel and solicitor general of the United States, Marshall's untold story is vividly captured in Gibson's book, unlike ever before; yet, the humble elder was all ears when understanding the nuances of the publishing world – and the politics of such a business that is hands-down, one of the most disadvantaged arenas for black-owned entrepreneurs.
However, BCP has made it 35-years by partnering with celebrities like Gibson, and other nationally known authors, who lend their name to the reprint of their work in order to help promote the BCP brand.
“It is my mission, and it should be our mission, as a people, to uplift one another whenever possible,” says Doni Glover, owner of Bmorenews.com. “I put this event together to do just that; to allow other starving artists and authors to network and support one another, while at the same time learning the business from each other - so they can avoid the pitfalls and capitalize on the successes of one another!”
Glover, who has built his own brand throughout the Baltimore/Washington area, through consistent journalism via video, radio and print publications; says its never been just about him, but rather the mission of uplifting fallen humanity. “I was given opportunities that helped make me who I am today, from people like those at the Sandtown-Winchester newsletter years ago; and feel its my responsibility to pay-it forward by helping others discover their dreams and goals through any outlet I can provide them!”
And he certainly has a track record of doing just that!
From having countless young, aspiring journalists, artists and media personalities assist on his weekly radio program, the Empower Hour; which is the longest serving paid programming show on WOLB1010AM. To highlighting people's events, businesses, dreams and aspirations via video interviews that he does around town – and on the spot; Glover has become the quintessential 'dream maker' of Baltimore.
“All I do is remain humble in what it is God has for me, and remain committed in helping advance the cause for my people – By Any Means Necessary!”
And it goes without saying, the young journalists and authors who were present at yesterdays Black Book Expo, were certainly appreciative of the opportunity Glover presented them. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Doni does, and certainly appreciate the opportunity to network with, and support, other local authors,” says Ms. Chimera, whose latest piece 'Fabrics of My Intention' was a highly acclaimed and popular poetry book.
The 35-year old author is more seasoned than others, having written two books; and yet, she was in awe by the experience of yesterday's book expo. “I thoroughly enjoyed the marketing aspect of the event, not to mention the comradery of the other local authors! Something that I would recommend to other artists and hope happens on a more frequent basis,” says Chimera.
And even seasoned author Marshall Bell saw fit to participate in such an innovative expo. “It's not everyday that you get an opportunity to not only promote and sell your books, but also to network with and learn a few things from others trials and tribulations,” says Bell, who was promoting his latest novel, 'Baltimore Blues: Harm City'. (Examiner review of Bell's book here)
And if your a local author and weren't at yesterday's Black Book Expo, then you need to find out when the next one is to so you can register now, as you certainly missed a golden opportunity that looks to take the publishing world by storm!
“I wanted to thank all of the authors and publishers who came out yesterday. I, for one, learned something probably from everybody who attended, as it was a truly empowering day. As a soon-to-be-pubished author, yesterday gave me an opportunity personally to meet authors and learn how each of them chose to do it. It was a beautiful thing, and interestingly enough was a 100% black-attended event.
A main lesson for me is that given that there are so many black authors out here, I think it makes sense to support black publishers like Black Classic Press and Afrikan World Press. One should also know that Paul Coates and Natee of Afrikan World Press and Everyone's Place Cultural and Book Store are not only significant to black authors around the state - but around the world.” ~ Doni Glover