Special to The Dallas Examiner

Reading is the foundation of education. And children who learn to love reading generally have better reading comprehension. According to Reading is Fundamental, children who learn to read early have a better chance of overcoming the achievement gap.

The Tulisoma: South Dallas Book Fair was designed to promote literacy in the Southern Dallas region. Founded in 2003 by the late Leo V. Chaney Jr. and Dr. Harry Robinson, president and CEO of the African American Museum, the goal of Tulisoma – Swahili for “we read” – is to create a dynamic event tailored to engage local families and avid readers, while offering a showcase of nationally acclaimed and aspiring authors.

Tulisoma is back this year and will kick off with the Sutton E. Griggs Lifetime Achievement Award in Literature Dinner on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. The dinner will honor literary icons Sonia Sanchez and Haki Madhubuti. There is a fee to attend.

Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems. She formed a writers’ workshop in Greenwich Village, attended by poets Amiri Baraka, Haki R. Madhubuti and Larry Neal. With Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni and Etheridge Knight. She also formed the “Broadside Quartet” of young poets, promoted by Dudley Randall.

During the early 1960s, Sanchez began to focus more on her Black heritage from a separatist point of view. She was a pioneer in developing Black studies courses at what is now San Francisco State University, where she was an instructor from 1968 to 1969. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977. She was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award for 1995 edition of Does Your House Have Lions? She won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for Homegirls & Handgrenades in 1984.

Sanchez has received many honors, including: the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a National Endowment for the Arts Award and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

She has lectured at more than 500 universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, the People’s Republic of China, Norway and Canada.

Madhubuti has published 28 books – some under his former name, Don L. Lee. He is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction, with books in print in excess of 3 million. His last books were Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption and Yellow Black, an autobiographical novel detailing the first 21 years of his life. He has also co-edited two volumes of literary works from Gallery 37, releasing The Spirit, and Describe the Moment. His poetry and essays were published in over 30 anthologies from 1997 to 2001. He also wrote Tough Notes: A Healing Call For Creating Exceptional Black Men.

He co-founded of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept Development Center in 1969 and the Betty Shabazz International Charter School in 1998 in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a founder and board member of the National Association of Black Book Publishers, a founder and chairman of the board of The International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and founder and director of the National Black Writers Retreat. Prior to stepping down from his position, Madhubuti held the position of Distinguished University Professor, co-founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Chicago State University.

In December 1967, Madhubuti met with Carolyn Rodgers and Johari Amini in the basement of a South Side apartment to found Third World Press, an outlet for African American literature. By 2007, the company continued, 40 years later, to thrive in a multimillion-dollar facility. Over the years, this press would publish works for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as Sonia Sanchez, Sterling Plumpp and Pearl Cleage.

He was one of the few Southern members of the Niagra 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.

The Tulisoma book fair is a free community event and will be held Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 25 authors/illustrators will host readings and signings. Guest authors include Sanchez and Madhubuti; Dr. Kenneth M. Hamilton, author of Booker T. Washington in American Memory and Professor of History at Southern Methodist University; Carole Boston Weatherford, New York Times Bestselling children’s book author; and Sanderia Faye, author of Mourner’s Bench.

Tulisoma will also include workshops and seminars, including 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; and How to Organize a Youth Book Club. A special feature of the event will be the Youth Poetry Slam and Open Mic hosted by National Slam Champion Mike Guinn.

All events will be held at the African American Museum, located at 3536 Grand Ave. For more information, call 214-565-9026 ext. 304 or visit http://www.tulisomabookfair.org.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *