Special to The Dallas Examiner
The 15th Tulisoma: South Dallas Book Fair will return Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 at The African American Museum in Fair Park. Tulisoma is Swahili for “we read,” and is a community-based festival promoting literacy in the South Dallas/Fair Park area. It will kick off with the Sutton E. Griggs Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Wade and Cheryl Hudson will receive the Sutton E. Griggs Lifetime Achievement Award in Literature and Emma Rodgers will receive the Sutton E. Griggs Literacy Champion Award.
Aug. 25 will feature over 25 authors/illustrators for readings and signings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., including the Griggs Awardees; award winning children’s book author Derrick Barnes; Victor McGlothin; New York Times Bestseller Denene Millner; Antonia Williams-Gary, Alexis Yancy and Paula Drew Fleming.
Workshops and seminars presented will be “How to start a book club,” “How to publicize and market your book,” “Self-Publishing,” “Vision Bookmaking: children and youth,” “Encouraging Our Sons to Read: A Community Call to Action,” “Story of Self,” “How to Organize a Youth Book Club” and a special feature will be Game Changers – Hip Hop Gospel Extravaganza.
Over the course of his career Griggs wrote more than a dozen books, including five novels, five social tracts, his autobiography, a short biography of John L. Webb, and The Kingdom Builder’s Manual (1924), a booklet of biblical quotations. At his expense he published and distributed these works, which were generally written for “the aspiring classes of the Black south.”
He was one of the few Southern members of the Niagara Movement, a civil rights group which had an outspoken platform based on the issue of racial and social justice and which eventually evolved into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Although he has often been characterized as a Black nationalist based on the plot of his first novel, this may be an overgeneralization since his subsequent novels do not contain this theme. In Imperium in Imperio Griggs chronicles the social and political injustice to which blacks are subjected. He describes the meeting of the Imperium in Imperio, a secret political organization in Waco, Texas, composed of blacks who are frustrated with the social and political status of Blacks in America. In the novel the leader of the organization argues for the violent takeover of Texas.
Neither this work nor any subsequent novel by Griggs received widespread distribution. Although succeeding Griggs novels, Overshadowed (1901), Unfettered (1902), The Hindered Hand (1905), and Pointing the Way (1908), are deemed “less militant” by some scholars, they received poor circulation. One reason may be that many of Griggs’s philosophies on race relations were in direct conflict with the philosophies espoused by Booker T. Washington and other popular black leaders of the day. Griggs’s views on improving the status of Blacks were influenced by several contemporary social theorists, including Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and Benjamin Kidd. Griggs felt that society evolved from lower to higher forms by adopting “Christian virtues.” In his later view Blacks needed only to practice Christian virtues in order to improve their socioeconomic status. Members and organizations of the black community would have to work together in order to instill these traits in the race. Griggs outlined these views in in lectures he made in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.
For information, visit www.tulisomabookfair.org or 214-565-9026, ext. 304.