2nd Annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival to be held March 28
By Laurie Willis
CHERAW, South Carolina – Montril Jones is passionate about writing, reading and African American literature. So when he heard about the Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival, he didn’t hesitate to become a part of it.
“I didn’t participate in the Festival last year because I was already booked at another event for authors,” Jones said. “I’m excited to be on hand for this year’s event because it’s important for the next generation of readers and writers to know and understand the power of communication, story telling and what it means to control your own narrative.”
The 2nd Annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival will be held from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at Kevin Lear on Main, 140 2nd St. in Cheraw. This year’s event features at least 13 authors from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Jones will peddle his book, “The Ministry of Marriage: A Biblical Blueprint to Winning in Marriage,” at the event.
“This book uses Biblical characters, events and principles to help people understand how to have a successful marriage,” said Jones, who became a published author three years ago. “Since I was a little boy, I’ve always been a writer. I started off writing poetry and songs due to my love of music. Short stories and inspirational writings came along later in life. Most of my writing is poetry and short stories, but I have a love for all forms of writing!”
Jones’ words are music to the ears of Bennettsville, South Carolina, native and Festival Found-er Michael L. Strong, who said he’s repeating the event because of how successful it was last year.
“We had overwhelming support for the Black Authors Lab and Book Festival last year,” said Strong, author of “Strong Getting Stronger,” which chronicles the more than 20 years he spent in active addiction. “Many people in the community were overjoyed with the books available for purchase and the opportunity to meet the authors who wrote them. We saw people come out who we hadn’t seen in years, and our featured author, Teresa Willis of New York City, author of “Like A Tree Without Roots,” set the place on fire during her reading!”
Among this year’s featured authors are Jones, Linda Orji and Tracy R. Powell, Ph.D. “All of our featured authors are amazing and inspiring speakers who have gone above and beyond in their works of art and have truly redefined the writing game,” Strong said. “They all truly ex-emplify the late great Toni Morrison.”
Orji has been an author for 33 years and participated in last year’s inaugural Festival. She said she’s participating again this year in hopes of inspiring others.
“I strongly believe that writing should evolve like any other subject like science and math,” Or-ji said. “Those subjects are being molded on a revolutionary level. Why aren’t we doing the same thing with writing and reading?” Orji’s most recent work is “Cracked Concrete Vol. 1: A Poetic P(rose) of Her. Self. Innovation.”
Powell started journaling as a child but published her first book in 2016. Among her published works are “Practical Leadership: Lessons Learned from Mickey,” “The Journey to Authorship: A Pocket Guide for Writers,” and “The Leadership Journal.”
Powell said her love of reading and learning inspired her to become a writer.
“I participated in the Black Authors Lab and Book Festival last year because it’s an opportunity to collaborate with and be empowered by a beautiful community of colorful people,” she said. “I think festivals like these are important because they offer a safe place for colorful writers to come, share and demonstrate their work. There’s no other opportunity in South Carolina like this of which I’m aware.” Strong said he was excited by the high numbers of elementary children and their parents who attended last year’s event.
“That was the target of our efforts, to get parents and children together in one place to enjoy the works of local and national black authors,” Strong said. “This year we’ve moved to a warmer time of the year, which allows us to host part of the event outdoors. There will be a couple of surprise guests and on-site food vendors. We’re implementing a slightly different format to in-crease the energy and to better engage attendees.
“We all know that knowledge is power, and I’m grateful to be part of an event that inspires young children to recognize the importance of reading while encouraging them to tap into their writing abilities.” Strong continued. “Chances are some of the kids at this year’s Festival might be among our featured writers down the road.”
What? 2nd Annual Cheraw Black Authors Lab and Book Festival
When? Saturday, March 28, 2020
Where: Kevin Lear on Main, 140 2nd St., Cheraw, South Carolina
Time: 1-5 p.m.
For tickets: www.eventbrite.com