The legacy of Americans of African descent extends beyond the realm of athletics and entertainment. To perpetuate and build upon the lesser- known heritage of literacy is a core objective of the annual Black Writers on Tour conference held at Carson’s Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center on April 30.
The conference (http://www.blackwritersontour.com/), now in its 19th year and this year under the theme “Literacy is Everybody’s Business: Businesses Thriving Versus Surviving,” is the brainchild of Rosie Milligan Ph.D, a multi-talented author, business consultant, entrepreneur, estate planner, registered nurse, and talk show host, the Mississippi native has carried the southern tradition of “doing for self” into all her endeavors.
“I saw so many people die with manuscripts left behind,” she recalls, recounting the various factors that compelled her to launch this undertaking.
For Milligan, the responsibility to craft stories and document the past is essential to preserving the self esteem of the race as a whole.
“If we don’t tell it, who will,” she asks.
Initially, the author’s showcase was conceived to give aspiring writers the where-with-all to successfully enter the publishing business. Recently, however the number of venues promoting Black businesses has thinned out, through a combination of apathy, lack of capital, and available sponsorship. Observing this evaporation of resources, Milligan decided to expand her conference to include the Southern California Black Business Expo, and provide minority entrepreneurs a setting in which to present their wares, and interact with other like-minded individuals.
As a result of this desire to fill the void and facilitate the natural marriage of these two interests, she was able to fill the community center with an estimated 50 vendors and 100 writers, exhibiting everything from food, to garments, and services.
Providing an adjunct to all this were seminars covering educational and legal advice, and “how to’s” on writing and various other subjects.
Standing out among all those gathered was musical legend Charles Wright of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band fame. The icon was on hand to promote his latest CD, “Something to Make You Feel Good,” as well as his autobiography “Up From Where We’ve Come (both may be purchased at the official website: http://www.expressyourself.net/ ).”
Wright generously shared some antidotes from his upbringing with Our Weekly. In spite of a strict Baptist upbringing in the heart of the music-rich Mississippi Delta, Wright’s own musical journey did not begin in earnest until his move to Los Angeles. There, the impressionable teenager fell under the sway of “doo wop,” singers and “crooners” like the Clovers, and the late Jesse Belvin. Hanging out at Belvin’s houses, first at 32nd and San Pedro, and then at Washington and West Boulevards, led to work as a session guitarist, and then fronting his own groups.
Charles Wright continues his storied career producing, in his words, “genuine soul music.”
Central to the overall success of the event are the efforts of Exhibit Manager Ernestine Dixon, who has been associated with the conference since its inception. Those interested in participating in next year’s iteration can make the first step by visiting the website, calling (323) 750-3592, or via email at email@example.com