It’s one of those things that seems long overdue.
This Saturday, August 19, the first ever Black Authors Festival will be held at the Breakwater Yacht Club in Sag Harbor, honoring several authors, business owners and educators from across the nation. Founded by award-winning entrepreneurs, teachers, and authors in their own right, Verdel Jones and Darlene Williams, the festival was created in an effort to promote literacy amongst the black community. Its main focus is to encourage, enable and nurture black authors of all ages to write and publish their own stories.
“The Black Authors Festival will prove to young people that they can accomplish anything they desire,” says Williams in a press release. Williams, a New York-based transformational coach is also the founder of The Higher Level Method, LLC a personal and professional development coaching firm. According to Williams, she realized at a young age that she was able to travel, figuratively, across the globe and meet all kinds of people via her ability to read. “I want to remain diligent on my quest to debunk the myth that if you want to hide something from a black person, place it in a book,” she says. “The Black Authors Festival will prove to young people that they can accomplish anything they desire.”
Some of the honorees slated to be included at Saturday afternoon’s festival include celebrity personal trainer and life coach Kacy Duke, whose story was the inspiration for Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix miniseries “Inventing Anna”; Dr. Steve Perry, founder and head of schools at Capital Preparatory Schools in Connecticut; former news personality and award-winning author Vivian L. King; Girls Who Brunch Tour founder, writer and producer Ni’cola Mitchell; retired corporate executive, political consultant and motivational speaker Thelma A. Sias; and Long Island native and bestselling author Regina Perry.
For nearly a century, neighborhoods throughout Sag Harbor have been home to several historically black communities. Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions Historic District (SANS), was founded after World War II, serving primarily as a summer retreat for middle-class African American families. These beachfront communities, located off Route 114, were formed as a direct response to Jim Crow-era legalized segregation. Just down the road, towards Main Street, is the Eastville Community Historical Society.
It makes sense to have this particular festival there.
“Having our Black Authors Festival in historical Sag Harbor is the perfect place to kick off this inaugural event,” says Jones, CEO of her non-profit Share Inform Enlighten. Noting Long Island in the summer is her favorite place, Jones assured the festival will become an annual event. “I want our attendees to come away with a sense of pride, empowerment, connection, and no doubt good old fun!”
Without question there’s plenty of fun to be had.
Along with the slew of interviews and conversations from the authors and entrepreneurs slated to appear, the festival will feature a VIP experience starting at noon where guests can take part in a red-carpet photo shoot, enjoy bites from Long Island’s own “Chopped” champion chef Marc Anthony Bynum, and have access to plenty of top-shelf party favors. Never Lose Touch will perform soulful classics along with contemporary R&B, reggae and some original tunes. There’ll also be a fashion show from Culture Trees Designs, featuring African inspired clothing, along with a raffle. Cocktails will be served. Tickets are $250 per person.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Barack Obama Green Charter School and Share Inform Enlighten. Breakwater Yacht Club is located at 51 Bay Street in Sag Harbor.