Originally Posted: May 18, 2017
As part of the socially conscious Dallas literary scene, I have worked toward creating a space for African American writers for nearly ten years. In 2013, with novelist and Southern Methodist University professor David Haynes, I co-founded Kimbilio—Swahili for “safe haven”—to support fiction writers of the African Diaspora. But my literary advocacy developed for selfish reasons—I was alone in a new city and needed to commune with writers, especially other writers of color.
When I received my MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University, I returned to my career in sales and marketing with hopes that I would find time to write. After a few years, I had only written a few pages. I missed the literary community at my university and wondered if I’d ever finish a book and get it published. When I moved to Dallas for a position in executive sales and corporate giving, I realized that if I was going to write at all, I needed to connect with local writers and literary organizations. I also noticed that African American writers did not include Dallas on their book tours, but would stop in Austin and Houston. I wanted to make Dallas a literary destination.
I worked ungodly hours for my company, which did not leave time to develop relationships slowly, so I took a methodical approach to achieving my goal of joining a literary community. I rented and then purchased a home in the Arts District. I also looked for festivals and organizations that had 5013c status so I would be able to support them financially with corporate funding.
Then I came across the Tulisoma Book Fair, held in Fair Park over Labor Day weekend at the African American Museum and surrounding businesses and historical buildings. What I loved most about the fair is that it was a vision by then city council member Leo Chaney and the museum’s director, Dr. Harry Robinson. They launched the event not only so the community could see writers of color, but, primarily, to leave a legacy. READ MORE