Antoinette Isama, 26, Associate Editor “I was in high school when I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.” Photo: Miranda Barnes
On Saturday, Glory Edim hosted the second annual Well-Read Black Girl Festival, an extension of her Brooklyn-based IRL and online book club of the same name. She and more than 300 supporters descended upon Pioneer Works in Red Hook for a series of panels, readings, and music performances to celebrate the joy of being a Well-Read Black Girl. Guests included poet Patricia Smith, award-winning memoirist Veronica Chambers, and Newbery honorees Jacqueline Woodson and Renée Watson.
The phenomenon started with a T-shirt, a gift made by Edim’s partner, featuring the phrase “Well-Read Black Girl,” “Erudita Puella Africae” (Educated Girls in Africa), and the names of some of her favorite authors. Inspired by conversations she struck up with strangers while wearing the shirt, Edim decided to start a book club. Since 2015, Well-Read Black Girl has grown into an Instagram community with more than 150,000 followers, where Edim shares the books she’s reading along with quotes from famous black women authors and leaders. To be a part of the WRBG Book Club, you can sign up for Edim’s bi-monthly newsletter, which announces each book of the month and details on how to attend the monthly meetings in person or online.
Edim also edited a book released late last month, Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, in which she asked some of the most prominent black women writers, including Gabourey Sidibe and Lynn Nottage, to write essays about a black author, character, or book that changed their lives. Between events at the festival, we pulled guests aside to ask the same question: Which black woman author has changed the way you think, and why? Just like the writers Edim celebrates in her book club, their answers are varied and inspiring.