Friday from the Archives: “A Literary Mission Accomplished: Twenty Years of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective” by L. Teresa Church from NCLR 25 (2016).
“In 1995, the timing was right for a new writers group to take root within the cultural landscape of North Carolina’s Research Triangle area. Poet Lenard D. Moore, a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, had long recognized the need for networking and support among black writers.” Such was the beginning of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, a group that will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary next year. Moore was one of this year’s Literary Hall of Fame honorees, partly for his work founding the CAAWC.
Church wrote about the group for our 25th Anniversary issue. “One of the immediate benefits of the Collective was that it unified a community of writers who previously did not know of each other’s
work. The significance of the group became all the more apparent during succeeding meetings, as additional members introduced themselves, stated personal objectives for joining the group, and read samples of their writings. These writings showcased a wide range of talents and addressed many aspects of black life in America.” Members have published dozens of books and other pieces over the years, including the recent anthology (reviewed in NCLR Online 2021) All the Songs We Sing: An anthology celebrating twenty-five years of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective.
North Carolina has long been “The Writingest State,” and, while making progress, we still have a ways to go to see equity for all writers. The CAAWC continues to serve as an important network for its members. Church wrote, “Affiliations with the organization transformed probabilities into possibilities, which became realities time and again as writers continue to see their works in print. The Carolina African American Writers’ Collective has afforded sanctuary for body, mind, and spirit.”