BALTIMORE — Excitement filled the air along with countless expressions of content and delight as authors, book lovers, book clubs and artists came together to network on Baltimore’s historical campus of Morgan State University.
This past weekend, the University’s Student Center Calvin and Tina Tyler Ballroom housed the 7th Annual African American Authors & Empowerment Book Expo and with clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures, a perfect backdrop for this year’s event.
On Friday, October 14 an awards banquet kicked off the festivities as participating authors were celebrated for their literary achievements; work in the communities and participation in this year’s event. Each author received an award, which was presented by Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Catherine Pugh.
The fun continued Saturday, October 15 with speaker panels, workshops, arts and crafts, live entertainment, health and wellness seminars and children activities all free and open to the public.
“My sister dragged me out of the house this morning, but I am so glad that she did,” said aspiring author Nina Chalker at the beginning of the festivities. “I didn’t know what to expect, but this was a perfect day for a book expo. All of the authors are so personable, I am so glad that I came.”
Organizers of the event had been anticipating large crowds to support the annual affair and there seemed to be no shortage of attendance in spite of traffic alerts and warnings of possible road closures and delays due to Baltimore’s Annual Running Festival being held on the same day.
Baltimore native, Pamela Woods admitted that she wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I saw on the news all week long about other local events like the Running Festival, fleet week and air shows in downtown Baltimore so I expected [that] myself and others to get caught in traffic, but that wasn’t the case for me and it doesn’t seem like it was the case for others, ” said Woods.
Wood’s sentiments seemed to echo throughout the event as other attendees got a chance to mingle with some of their favorite authors and artists while gathering some much needed information.
There were over 50 authors and panelists on hand giving expert advice in a number of areas. From relationship expert, author and media personality, Ladawn Black, to hip hop recording artist, Philadelphia Freeway, to New York Times and USA bestselling author Brenda Jackson, attendees got a chance to purchase books, have them signed, and receive professional advice all while snapping a few pictures to add to their collections.
“Patricia Johnson-Harris surprises us each year by outdoing the previous year,” said Brian Lemmell, a repeat attendee of the event. “It’s a standard of excellence unmatched by any other book expo that I’ve ever attended. I love how she has something for everyone. She leaves no stone unturned, even the kids can join in on the fun.”
Even celebrity fitness expert, Monte Sanders got in on the fun. Sanders conducted a workshop on the importance of health and wellness and how it relates to the mind, body and spirit.
“This was an amazing day for me. I’ve collected so much information on book publishing, writing and health and fitness,” said Michael Scott another attendee and aspiring author mentioned after attending Mr. Sanders workshop. “I initially came to see Freeway and Prodigy of Mobb Deep because I breathe hip hop, but listening to these brothers speak about growth in the business along with certain sicknesses affected by unhealthy eating gave me more information than I came for. This was the fire I needed put under my butt to not only finish my book, but to also eat better,”
The aspiring author added that he started writing a book of fiction years ago, but stopped because he needed pointers on character development and book publishing in general.
“The authors were extremely forthcoming in all that it takes to write and publish a book. They even gave insight from different perspectives on various publishing deals. I will definitely be coming back next year and implore everyone else to do the same,” Scott added.