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Celebrating Black Culture: Storytelling & Poetry

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Dr. Obi Nwakanma, professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Central Florida,  joins author and poet Valada Flewellyn and blues musician and songwriter Ruth King for a celebration of the power of words and a look at the role of storytelling in African tradition and the African American cultural experience.


Valada Parker Flewellyn

Poet and storyteller Valada Parker Flewellyn is the author of Poetically, Just Us (1990), For the Children: The History of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated (2018), the oldest African American family organization, and African Americans of Sanford, from Arcadia Publishing (2009). Her interest in African American history was fueled when she was 13, by her mentor, Icabod Flewellen, pioneer of the African American museum in the United States. Her poetry, including “Skin on the Rope” (included in the History Center’s current exhibition on the Ocoee Massacre of 1920) reflects and responds to the social-justice Issues of the times.

Ruth King

Born into a musical family with blues, pop, and jazz notes, Ruth King found her life stage set for a career in the blues. Her original music can be found on Amazon Prime/Alexa, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and at Raised in the north country of New York, she lives the life of a happy Central Florida contemplative. When she’s not performing, she finds her life-joy in home-living and creativity.

Obi Nwakanma

Poet, journalist, and literary critic Obi Nwakanma is an associate professor of English at the University of Central Florida, where he teaches classes in poetry, the literature of the African Diaspora, Anglophone Transnational literatures, and the Black history of Ideas. Described by the Paris-based Africa Today as “one of the finest contemporary poets from Africa,” Nwakanma was awarded the ANA/Cadbury prize for his first poetry collection, The Roped Urn. He began his professional life as a journalist in Nigeria and has been the West African correspondent for Newsweek magazine. He is currently working on a biography of poet, philosopher, newspaper mogul, and anti-colonialist leader Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, as well as completing a novel, “A Bowl of Incense,” and a new collection of poems, “Indigo Streets.”

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