Jessica Care Moore, internationally renowned poet, publisher, activist, rock star, playwright, and actor; will join accomplished writers from Grinnell College and Des Moines’ East High School in the African-American Writers Forum — 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Des Moines Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave. — as part of the Des Moines WOW! (Wonder of Words) Festival. The forum celebrates the literary contributions of African-American writers in Iowa.
“Educational pipelines for the African-American communities began in slavery,” says Kesho Scott, associate professor of sociology and American studies at Grinnell. “The information you acquired — written or verbal — was important for escape. Slaves learned to read and write as a form of rebellion. Today it’s a form of survival and being a productive member of society,” she explains.
Grinnell College chose to sponsor the forum, says Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement, “because of the College’s long historical connection with African Americans in Iowa, from the College’s early abolitionist founders and benefactors active in the underground railroad to today’s active effort to attract these voices to our campus community through students, faculty, and staff.” The College, she adds, reaches out to recognize its deep heritage and shared future with the greater Iowa community.
Grinnell faculty members will join with guest speaker/performer Jessica Care Moore and a Grinnell alumna in celebrating African-American writers and inviting selected young authors from East High School to read from their works.
George Barlow, associate professor of English and American studies, hopes that students “appreciate the chance to experience public writing beyond what they do at their high school. … Writers will often tell you that they developed a sense of public writing fairly early, whether in their school’s yearbook or newspaper or a forum like this one. They are not just writing for themselves.”
Speakers will include Jessica Care Moore, selected student authors from a Des Moines high school, and Grinnell alumna and fiction writer Molly Rideout ’10, as well as Grinnell faculty members:
Grinnell College associate professor of sociology and American studies, diversity trainer, public speaker, and author
Grinnell College associate professor of English and American studies, poet and Humanities Iowa Board member
Grinnell College assistant professor of gender and women’s studies and author
Grinnell College is sponsoring the forum as a part of the Des Moines Wonder of Words Festival, Oct. 17–29, 2012.
Grinnell authors M. Molly Backes ’02; Dean Bakopoulos, assistant professor of English; and J. Harley McIlrath ’83, assistant manager of the Grinnell College Bookstore, will also be at the WOW! Festival’s Iowa Authors Fair, 1–5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at Capital Square, 400 Locust Street, Des Moines.