Say It Loud 25th Anniversary

Beginning Wednesday, April 20, 2022, through Saturday, April 22, 2022, a variety of events have been scheduled to commemorate Say It Loud! Readers and Writers’ 25 years of promoting literature as a tool of empowerment. These events, which will be held at venues around the city of Little Rock, celebrate the theme Reflect! Create! Inspire! 

“We open the festivities with a New York Times best-selling author promoting Black boy joy and end celebrating girls and women in the arts and S.T.E.M.” —Patrick M. Oliver, founder Say It Loud! Readers and Writers 

The community is invited to participate in a series of highly interactive and thought-provoking literary activities. Highlights include literary workshops at schools featuring award-winning authors and illustrators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders; children and youth book fair, hip-hop and literacy panel discussion and closing keynote address with reception. All the presenters have a long-time history and familiarity with Say It Loud! and very instrumental in our past and recent successes. 

Scroll down for our 25th Anniversary Celebration Schedule

25th Celebration Community Events

The 25th Anniversary celebration is designed to give Little Rock children and youth three days of fun and learning utilizing publishing industry innovators and leaders. The celebration will also introduce our forthcoming initiatives designed to prepare youth for the highly technological 21st century classroom, workplace, and entrepreneurship opportunities. The forthcoming includes the following projects: TLC Saturday Empowerment Academy, Ananse Journal writing project for boys and young men, Say It Loud! Youth Digital Media and My Vision and Game Plan for the Future. 

“Culturally relevant books and literary arts projects create infinite possibilities for young people in communities.” — Patrick M. Oliver, literary consultant, program development specialist, writer and author 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 

11:30am to 12:30 pm CST Ananse Journal writing project virtual session for boys. Special guest facilitator multiple award-winning author Derrick Barnes. Limited number of participants. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022 

Virtual sessions with special guest award-winning author and illustrator Xelena González (10am CST) and Gordon C. James (1pm CST) 

4:30pm to 7pm CST Say It Loud! Children and Youth Book Fair with giveaways, book making session with Patrick M. Oliver and virtual special guest authors Xelena González and Gordon C. James. Live music provided by Say It Loud! alum and LRSD band director Jose Blue Holloway. Sue Cowan Williams Library, 1800 Chester Street. 

Friday, April 22, 2022 | 9am to 4pm CST 

Say It Loud! Readers and Writers host My Vision and Game Plan for the Future sessions at schools and organizations throughout Central Little Rock, Arkansas. Participants will receive a copy of On My Own: Vision Board Guidebook for Young People 

Noon to 1:00 pm CST 

National Poetry Month Lunch and Learn virtual session with award-winning poet and author Dr. Randall Horton, professor of English at the University of New Haven. Dr. Horton will discuss his love of poetry and facilitate a short poetry exercise. High school students 

Saturday, April 23, 2022 | 10:30 am CST 

Civil Right Movement and Social Justice Books for Young People 

Tiffeni Fortno, Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center, Boston College University 

Little Rock Central High National Historic Site
Celebrating Girls and Women in the Arts and S.T.E.M.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center 

1:00 pm CST 

Ladies First: Hip-Hop in Rhetoric and Rhyme 

Tiffeni Fortno, Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center, Boston College 

Moderator: Osyrus Bolly, Artist/Activist, Racial Equity Coordinator for AR Public 

Music by DJ Charles Ray, Bantunauts Raydio. 

2:00 pm CST 

Say It Loud! Literary Arts Community Engagement Awards 

2:30 pm CST 

Activity: Closing keynote STEMulated by Say It Loud! 

Simone D. Milton, Say It Loud! alum and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse 

Introduction: Katina Latrice White, LRSD STEM educator and UAMS Educational Coordinator of Pathways Academy 

3:00 pm CST 

Reception and exhibits highlighting current and upcoming Say It Loud! projects and programs 

Music by Tonya Leeks and friends 

Special guest presenters’ bios and workshop descriptions 

Derrick Barnes, New York Times best-seller and multiple award-winning author such Newbury, Caldecott, ALA Coretta Scott King. 

Ananse Journal writing project virtual session for boys. Participants will journal about a writing prompt provided by Barnes from one of his books. All or some of the participants will share their writings interpretation during the session. 

Gordon C. James, illustrator and fine artist, New York Times best-seller, Caldecott, and two-time Kirkus Prize winner 

How To Do All Things (three sessions at assigned school) 

In Gordon’s illustrator presentation, he talks about how we can do hard things. How we learn and grow while maintaining confidence through constructive criticism. He’ll draw from his own personal experiences, answer questions, and leave plenty of time to draw with students as he inspires them with how he creates his art. 

Xelena González, award-winning children’s book author, storyteller, and dancer 

Wonder-ful Words (three sessions at assigned school) 

In this interactive session, author Xelena González will share her newest picture book Where Wonder Grows. Participants will get a glimpse at the creative process and the cultural components featured in the story. Following a brief Q&A, classes have the option to participate in a creative writing engagement. Older writers will leave with a first draft of an empowering nature poem, while younger writers can contribute to the creation of a group poem. 

Dr. Randall Horton, award-winning poet, author and English Professor 

Where I Come From 

Dr. Horton will lead this highly-interactive virtual session challenging participants to share about their lives in poetry and prose. 

Tiffeni Fortno, Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center, Boston College 

Civil Rights Movement and Social Justice Books for Young People 

Books for young people that celebrate the accomplishments of civil rights and social justice activism. 

Ladies First: Hip-Hop in Rhetoric and Rhyme 

This highly interactive session focuses on literary arts in the music of women in hip-hop. Books and resources about women in hip-hop, empowering song lyrics, activism and womanhood, and female industry trailblazers are some of the topics to be discussed. 

Simone D. Milton, Say It Loud! alum and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse 

STEMulated by Say It Loud! 

Simone Milton, one of the original members of Say It Loud! shares about how her involvement in literary arts provided her with the opportunity graduate from Rhodes College and Baptist Health College to become a registered nurse.