August 25, 2016 

By Shirley Hawkins 

Contributing Writer 

Thousands of book lovers flocked to the 10th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair at the outdoor promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on Aug. 20 in Los Angeles to experience an exciting event that featured more than 150 authors, writers, storytellers, poets, spoken word performers, vendors and exhibitors.


Executive Director and Festival producer Cynthia E. Exum was joined on stage with her co-chairs, art collectors Bernard and Shirley Kinsey and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas.


“I’m honored and humbled to be able to bring this important literary event to the community,” said Exum, whose book fair was voted as one of “Los Angeles’ Best Annual Book Festivals.”


“Our mission has been to promote and encourage literacy and education and a love of reading to the community and for the past decade, I believe we’ve been successful.”


“Over the course of a decade, the Leimert Park Village Book fair has enlightened and empowered African American culture and provided a hub for local literacy,” said Ridley-Thomas, a long-time supporter.


Dozens of local and national authors greeted their fans on the Plaza Promenade where the genre of books ranged from autobiography and inspiration to mystery, crime and science fiction.


Filmmaker and author Mattie Rich (“Straight Out of Brooklyn” and “The Inkwell”) interviewed legendary musician Charles Wright, (“Express Yourself”) whose autobiography, the gripping “Up From Where We Come,” chronicled the early part of his life from growing up in Jim Crow Mississippi to his early rise in the music business.


“It took me 40 years to write this book,” confessed Wright, founder of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, whose iconic song, “Express Yourself,” has been sampled in 80 television commercials and 30 movies.


“Every time I start reading the book, I start crying,” said Wright, whose book depicts the back breaking poverty experienced by his family.


Actress Megan Good and her husband DeVon Franklin discussed their best-selling book titled “The Wait,” about their courtship and love affair and their journey of practicing celibacy before marriage.


Both said their Christian faith played a large part in their decision to remain celibate during their courtship, adding that their book was written to help other couples who are intent on remaining celibate before marriage.


“The waiting time is a time of preparation, a time to get your character and integrity together,” said Franklin, who added that since he and Good tied the knot, “We are like two teenagers. Everyday has been an adventure.”


Participating on the “Mysteries R Us” panel were science fiction writers Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, suspense writer and attorney Pamela Samuels Young and mystery writer Gary Phillips.


Husband and wife and writing duo Barnes and Due have been pioneers in writing Black-themed science fiction, fantasy and horror in the literary world.


“I wanted to see people who looked like me represented in science fiction,” said Barnes, whose latest book is “The Seascape Tattoo.”


Due, an award-winning novelist and screenwriter who teaches creative writing at UCLA, said that her short story collection “Ghost Summer” was just optioned by a major cable network.


“Steven and I are currently writing a television pilot. It’s an honor to write about people who look like us being represented on the silver screen,” said Due, who said that Hollywood has recently taken an interest in Black-themed science fiction and horror. “It’s exciting to be part of the wave.”


Grammy Award-winning recording artist Bobby Brown talked about his new biography, “Every Little Step,” which chronicles his life and the tragic deaths of his former wife, singer Whitney Houston and his daughter, Bobbie Christina.


An emotional Brown said that he was taking the tragic losses “one step at a time.”


Celebrated author, and screenwriter Zane, author of 38 novels and known for her spicy, erotic fiction and the publisher of Strebor Books International, was interviewed by Our Weekly editor Julianna Norwood.


Her latest book, “Vengeance,” is about a man leading a triple life. “It’s the most complex character I’ve ever written,” said Zane, who also has several TV shows.


Panel discussions included “Are We Better Off Today? The issue of Race, Obama and the African American Community” which was moderated by KJLH host Dominique DiPrima and featured author Dr. Julianne Malveaux (“Are We Better Off?”) April Ryan (“The Presidency in Black and White”) and Erin Aubrey (“I Heart Obama.”)


The LPVBF is produced by Exum and Associates in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; and Capri Capital Partners of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw. 

Category: Community