The Essence Festival brings an array of organizations and groups to New Orleans, all reflecting the African American experience. In addition to the rich musical history and signature foods, New Orleans boasts a strong literary culture as well. The 3rd annual Bayou Soul Readers and Writers Conference kicked off the festive weekend with its 3rd annual conference, “Claiming Our Destiny”. The conference welcomed Delphine Publishing and Mobetta Publishing, two of the country’s largest African American publishers; representation from countless literary genres, along with an assortment of authors including best-selling authors Mary B. Morrison, Dr. Maxine Thompson, teen sci-fi author Stone Erickson, teen beauty queen author Tori Turner, Debra Bryant aka Momma Dee from VH1’s Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and many more!
Clarence Nero, founder of the Bayou Soul Writers & Readers Conference knew that hosting his event during the infamous Essence Festival Weekend would be a great fit for a conference that seeks to celebrate African American contributions to literature and hopefully inspire new readers. This year the conference sponsored over 100 students from various Upward Bound Programs across Louisiana. “It is my hope and dream to get these students reading and participating in our essay contests. Knowledge is power and reading is the gateway to everything. With continues support from the community through sponsorship, we know that these young people will not only claim their destiny but achieve their goals with excellence,” Nero says.
Delphine Publishing owner and best-selling author Tamika Newhouse was awarded the E. Lynn Harris, Author of Distinction award at the conference. Newhouse brought five authors signed to her Delphine Publishing, including her new teen authors. “This conference was about more than just promoting our books and trying to get sales. Our purpose was to really inspire these students and show them that dreams do come true. Hopefully with them seeing young authors that look just like them in Tori and Stone, it can motivate them to reach for their dreams, whatever they may be,” Newhouse said.
The Bayou Soul Writers and Reader’s Conference was held on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at the Marriott Courtyard Downtown, New Orleans, LA.