Calling all book lovers, literary types and anyone who just wants to have a fun day out: Asadah Kirkland, founder of Soulful Chicago Book Fair, is gearing up for this year’s festivities.
Spanning four city blocks in the Woodlawn neighborhood, the all-day literary event takes place July 15 along 61st Street, between Cottage Grove and Martin Luther King Drive.
“This is our third year,” said Kirkland. “People should come out to the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, because it’s obviously the most exciting Black book fair on the planet! Nowhere, have we ever seen a book fair where each block is organized by genre, has two stages, Grammy-level entertainers and over 100 black titles…combined in one place.”
Last year’s event brought over 75 Black authors, as well as several literary organizations to the South Side of Chicago.
“We pride ourselves on providing hundreds of authors, poets, and even composers the opportunity to share their unique perspectives with millions of literary fans across the city,” Kirkland said.
Like last year, genres included fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. The lineup this year will also include special features on history, health and wellness.
“Black people still buy books in this digital age because for so long, mainstream books have not covered our stories according to us,” Kirkland said. “Part of why the Soulful Chicago Book Fair was created was to help solve that problem.”
Kirkland added, “Many of the authors of this event are self-published and would usually have to go through a lot of red tape to be represented well by mainstream publishers.”
“With the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, everyone has their own stage and authors are applauded for their hard work. We must support that as a community. We (took) what (could) be considered a book desert and created a neighborhood overflowing with our stories, written by us, for our benefit. With the event being one block away from where (author) Lorraine Hansberry herself was raised, we do indeed see ourselves as forging the next Black Literary Renaissance of our time.”
Founded by Kirkand in 2016, the goal of Soulful Chicago Book Fair is to renew excitement around literacy and literary arts in the Black community.
In addition to the hundreds of books available to peruse and purchase, visitors will be treated to world class entertainment, including vocalists, storytellers, spoken word artists, and dance groups on two stages.
The event will feature literary workshops hosted by experienced authors and publishing professionals that will focus on writing, publishing and marketing literary works.
Featured titles at this year’s fair include Chancellor Williams’ “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.”
Williams reportedly took sixteen years of research and field study to compile his book, which was to serve as a reinterpretation of the history of the African race.
Originally published in 1971, Williams’ book was written at a time when many Black students, educators, and scholars were starting to make the connection between the way their history was taught and the way they were perceived by others and themselves.
The author’s question of what has happened to Blacks that has left them at the bottom of world society, is still relevant today.
Williams’ stance on the question is that many elements—nature, imperialism, and stolen legacies— aided in the destruction of the Black civilization.
Another local historian, Timuel D. Black, will be celebrated at this year’s fair. There is a youth essay writing contest named for the local activist and historian. The contest is for elementary and high school students who will be required to interview their oldest living relatives and write about the role their families played in Chicago history.
For more information about the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, call (646) 359-6605.