CELEBRATES the legacy of prominent Black writers who have called Buffalo home, whose voices shape history, inspire radical change, and influence current and future generations of poets and writers;
DRAWS INSPIRATION from Buffalo’s history as a gateway to freedom along the Underground Railroad; and
CHALLENGES our community to grapple with racism and inequities through literature, to find pathways toward justice in the power of the written word, and to open hearts & minds as we confront our shared past and present in order to shape a more equitable future.
Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Civil Writes Project is a large-scale community engagement project that began in 2017 with a series of interconnected literary arts programs culminating in Toni Morrison’s appearance at Just Buffalo’s BABEL series exactly fifty years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic speech on the same stage at Kleinhans Music Hall. In 2021, the program centered on a virtual BABEL event with novelist & essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates, and included community programming and collaborations supported by the Civil Writes Project. The 2022 Civil Writes Project featured Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead. The 2023 Civil Writes Project will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson on April 26, 2023.
Buffalo continues to be at a pivotal moment in its history—benefiting from an exciting renaissance even as the city grapples with persistent racial disparities. As the Civil Writes Project continues, our hope is to see even more engagement throughout WNY and beyond by opening conversations, encouraging reading and writing, and inviting widespread community participation around BABEL visits from the world’s foremost Black & African American writers.
As James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that can be faced, can be changed. But nothing can be changed if it cannot be faced.”
Plan an event and apply for up to $1,500 to help make it happen! Apply each year in January and early February for projects taking place in March through June.
Reading groups, writing workshops, community events, and BABEL with Colson Whitehead.
This ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
One of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums celebrated #MLK50 in 2018, continuing their mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement.