Since the first Conference in 1986, this public gathering of literary personalities and scholars continues to recognize renowned authors and poets for their extraordinary achievements. This year’s Honorary Chair and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove said, “Black American literature is at its most exciting ever. I had dreamed but never imagined it possible that in my lifetime I would be witness to such a glorious panoply of Black artistic expression—from lyric to polemic, confessional to experimental, page to stage and everything in between, Black American literature today celebrates the beautiful complexities of racial identity.”

The honorees of the 13th National Black Writers Conference represent the spectrum of the energy and imagination that comprise the richness of Black literature. This year’s honorees are best-selling author Edwidge Danticat; award-winning novelist and essayist Charles Johnson, whose momentous novel “Middle Passage” won the National Book Award in 1990; writer and history scholar Michael Eric Dyson; and Woodie King Jr., founder of the New Federal Theatre.

The theme of the 13th NBWC, “Writing Race: Embracing Difference,” places the issues of race and difference at the forefront of the literature produced by Black writers. Through dynamic and spirited panel discussions, roundtables, readings, films, workshops and performances, writers, scholars, literary professionals, students and the general public gathered over four days to examine Black literary texts, to discuss the state of Black literature and to raise questions related to (a) how and whether Black writers “write race,” that is whether Black writers write texts with the acknowledgement that they are writing out of a space that is socially constructed by race and (b) the ways in which Black writers embrace difference in aesthetics, thoughts, beliefs, politics and religions in the texts they compose.