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The F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival just completed its 11th year with an impressive weekend on Saturday.

Mayor Derrick Henry, Dr. Stephanie Pasley Henry,their daughter look on as Derrick Henry Jr. gets the Math and Literacy party started at the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival on Saturday.

Photos By: Duane C. Fernandez Sr. / Hardnotts Photography L.L.C.

The F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival just completed its 11th year with an impressive weekend that included film, books, workshops, and international interviews. The weekend began with a film festival at the Peabody Auditorium on Thursday, January 6, 2022, with a short film by Booker T. Mattison and a full-length film by Lamont Gant. The short film entitled American Triptych and the full-length film “Returned” were premiered. The producer of American Triptych Shandra McDonald, the screen writer of “Returned” Marlon McCaulsky and the Director of “Returned “were present at the film festival.

On Friday, January 7, 2022, the film festival began with a Welcome by City Manager, Deric Feacher, a prayer by (Evangelist Angie Bee) and a song by “Bartee” A Change Is Going To Come, live interviews from international authors, including David Simon, the Director of the National Black Book Festival from the UK. That day 30 authors from around the country were represented, New York, Arkansas, Atlanta, Florida, and Georgia just to name a few states. Workshops were given – Filmmaking, Directing, Screenplay Writing, Producing 101, I Want To Write A Book Now What, Mrs. Janis F. Kearney did a workshop on her new book that will be published 2022 entitled Mahalia, and many more workshops. Chris Washburn, retired NBA star was on deck to deliver his message to young athletes to make sure that you always have an alternative to athletics. Mr. G.L. Henderson, Angie Ransome Jones, L.D. Robinson, Evangelist Angie Bee also led workshops. Ayanna Albertson who in April 2021 was crowned the #1 women slam poet in the world performed.

On Saturday, January 8, 2022, the festival opened with a Welcome by Mayor Derrick Henry, prayer by (Minister Faye Dadzie) and the Lord’s Prayer was song by Luci Emmons Gillis. Then in high energy song and dance the math and literacy party began with Dr. Stephanie Pasley Henry and her family. JoJo O’Neal, radio personality from Star 94.5 hosted the festival for the entire day. Workshops included: Marketing 101, Street Lit, Romance, Holistic, Erotica, One Size Does Not Fit All, Hurt People Hurt People, Perspectives: No One Can Take What You Have Between Your Ears, Drama, Fiction and Fixin, Filmmaking, Directing, Screenplay Writing, Producing 101, poetry by Milton McCulloch and more. F.R.E.S.H. Book and Literacy Awards distributed by Commissioner Paula R. Reed and City Manager, Deric Feacher.

It was an amazing hybrid book festival featuring authors: Pamela R. Haynes (UK), Rex Al Opusunju (Nigeria), Rebecca Vijay (India), Taniya Briana (India) and David Simon (UK), L.D. Robinson, Janis F. Kearney, Marlon McCaulsky, Lamont Gant, “Bartee”, Rekia Beverly, Keith Kareem Williams, Evangelist Angie Bee, G.L. Henderson, Rene Gordon, Lutishia Lovely, Fritz Michel, Jenny Nazak, Angie Ransome Jones, Donna M. Gray-Banks, Erin Holzman, Maurice Todd, Mellisa Lambert, Retired Judge Hubert Grimes, Renata Morgan, Derek Triplett, Milton McCulloch, Doug Smith, April Johnson, Stan Harrison, Edward Laden, Toni Bonita, Theresa Jordon (Triumphant Magazine), Troy Johnson, AALBC, and special guest Chris Washburn. Volunteers, Covita Grey (Realtor), Johnnie Mae Chavis (retired), Patricia Williams (Entrepreneur), and Loretha Simon (Author). Vendors: Sante Kingz by Chef Count, Lions Pride 8 (Sound/audio), Real Live Entertainment and Saxman.

We want to especially thank the staff of the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center and the Peabody Auditorium for a yeoman’s job, could not have put the event together without their expertise.

To Duane Fernandez (Deep Focus News), spent the time to interview participants to get an up close and personal point of view about their books, the festival, and their futures. Thank you, Duane.

And finally, to my Son, Gregory T. Banks, who is my (SUN), I thank God for you and for people who believe that Literacy is a Legacy.

Donna M. Gray-Banks

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