Smyrna presents “An evening with novelist Daniel Black” in celebration of Black History Month

The exterior of Smyrna City Hall, a red brick building with four large columns

The City of Smyrna will observe Black History Month with a Celebration Dinner with Dr. Daniel Black, author of the novel Don’t Cry for Me, on Friday, February 23, at 5:30 p.m. at the Smyrna Community Center, 1250 Powder Springs Street.

According to the press release for the event: 

Dr. Daniel Black is an award-winning novelist, professor, activist, mentor and public speaker. His published works include They Tell Me of Home, The Sacred Place, Perfect Peace, Twelve Gates to the City, The Coming, Listen to the Lambs, Don’t Cry for Me, and Black on Black. Dr. Black has been nominated for the Townsend Literary Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award, the Ferro-Grumbley Literary Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the Georgia Author of the Year Prize, and the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award.

His novel, The Coming, was published to broad critical acclaim in 2015 and is a first-hand account of the trauma and triumph of Africans aboard a slave ship in the 16th century. In 2016, Dr. Black’s long-awaited novel Listen to the Lambs was released. It explores the lives and agency of unhoused people who find each other on the street and create lives of meaning without material substance.

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National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward describes Dr. Black’s newest 2022 novel, Don’t Cry for Me, as “an epistolary dirge of a man singing to his son as he faces death by cancer. At turns intense and funny, tender and brutally honest, Jacob’s letter to his son, Isaac, is revelatory.” Black’s newest work is his first essay collection titled BLACK ON BLACK, released in 2023.

According to Dr. Black’s biography on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas website, he is a nationally renowned, award-winning novelist inspired by African-American life, history, and heritage in the South, covering themes of race, religion, and sexuality. 

Born on November 28, 1965, in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Arkansas, he graduated from Morrilton High School. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1988, he completed his master’s and doctorate in African-American studies at Temple University in 1990 and 1992, respectively. He also held a prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship and studied at Oxford University in 1987 under Sonia Sanchez, a prominent figure in the Black Arts Movement.

Currently residing in Atlanta, Black is a Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College professor. Since 1993, he has mentored emerging writers and scholars. Additionally, he founded the Ndugu and Nzinga Rites of Passage Nation, a mentoring society teaching character and principles to African-American youth, where he is known as Omotosho Jojomani.

Smyrna’s Black History Month Celebration Dinner includes dinner, a presentation by Dr. Black, and a book signing. Book sales will be available on-site, courtesy of Marietta-based Bookmiser. Dinner is catered by Chef Mark Brown and will feature contemporary Southern cuisine.

General admission tickets for the Black History Month Celebration Dinner are $20 each and reserved tables with priority seating are $200. To purchase, please visit https://secure.rec1.com/GA/smyrna-ga/catalog.

About Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States and some other countries that takes place during the month of February. It is a time dedicated to celebrating and recognizing the achievements, contributions, and history of Black Americans and their significant impact on the nation’s culture, society, and history.

The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to the early 20th century. 

In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), established “Negro History Week” in the second week of February, chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. 

Dr. Woodson aimed to highlight the often-overlooked history and achievements of Black Americans and promote their inclusion in mainstream historical narratives.

Over time, Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month, with the first official recognition by the U.S. government occurring in 1976 when President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

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