National Black Authors Day Date in the current year: May 4, 2024

National Black Authors Day National Black Authors Day is observed annually on May 4. It was created to celebrate Black authors of the past and present, help current Black authors gain exposure, and raise awareness of the unique challenges that Black authors face in the literary world.

The history of African-American literature dates back to the late 18th century. Among the first African-American authors were Lucy Terry, known for her ballad poem “Bars Fight”; Jupiter Hammon, whose poem “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries” was the first poem by a Black author published in North America; and Phillis Wheatley, whose Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was the first published book of poetry by an African-American author.

Throughout American history, African-Americans have been discriminated against, and Black authors have faced their fair share of discrimination and racism specifically within the literary word. They have had to prove time and again that they are equals to European-American authors while preserving their authenticity.

While African-American literature has become widely accepted in the United States, Black authors still face unique challenges. According to the National Writers Union (the only labor union in the U.S. representing freelance and contract writers), there is a shortage of Black writers and editors in permanent positions at the major publishing houses and a lack of Black-owned and operated publishing businesses, and agency representation for Black writers is still a problem. Another issue is that many books by African-American authors aren’t as popular overseas, possibly because the experience of being Black in the United States is too specific for international audiences.

National Black Authors Day was created in 2023 by CaTyra Polland, an author, copywriter, editor, sensitivity reader, and professional speaker from Rochester, New York. Polland noticed a gap in exposure for Black authors and reached out to National Day Archives to establish a holiday that celebrates them and highlights their contributions to literature. The main driving force behind National Authors Day is Love for Words, a professional editing boutique for writers and authors founded by Polland that connects Black authors and editors.

On the occasion of National Black Authors Day, Love for Words, as well as libraries, bookstores, and other venues organize events that spotlight Black authors by honoring their work and its impact on the world. These events include book signings and Q&A sessions with Black authors, live readings, storytelling sessions, panel discussions, book giveaways, and more.

There are many ways to get involved with National Black Authors Day. You can read a book by a Black author, give a shoutout to your favorite Black authors on social media, share quotes by Black authors, donate a book by a Black author to your local library or leave it at the closest bookcrossing spot, etc. And don’t forget to spread the word about the holiday on social media using the hashtag #NationalBlackAuthorsDay.

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