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Amplifying Black Narratives: The Creation of Black Narratives

November 18 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Join writers Crown Shepherd, Larry McKenzie, Sagirah Shahid, and Carolyn Holbrook in a discussion with moderator Alexs Pate in the third installment of the Friends Forum’s Amplifying Black Narratives series.

In this conversation, the authors and Pate will discuss how age and individual experience influence their work, reflect on how authors find their narrative and encourage the community to find their voice — while reinforcing the message that when we uplift Black voices, we all benefit. 

Event details

What: Amplifying Black Narratives: The Creation of Black Narratives
When: Thursday, Nov. 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: The Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway, Mpls, MN 55411

Reservations open on Oct. 1. 

About the panelists

Crown Shepherd is an author and reading advocate. Shepherd has dedicated her life to closing the illiteracy rate within the Black community. Shepherd believed if you can read, you can learn, if you can learn, you can grow, and if you can grow, you can be anything!


Sagirah Shahid is a Black American Muslim poet, arts educator, and performance artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Loft Literary Center, the Twin Cities Media Alliance, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art. Shahid is a teaching-writer with Unrestricted Interest, a writing program and consultancy dedicated to supporting neurodiverse learners through creative writing. Her debut collection of poetry Surveillance of Joy is forthcoming from Half Mystic Press. Shahid’s children’s activity book, Get Involved In A Book Club, is available for pre-order with Capstone Press.


Carolyn Holbrook is a writer, educator, and longtime advocate for the healing power of the arts. She is the author of an essay collection, Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify (University of MN Press, 2020), a chapbook, Earth Angels (Spout Press 2020), and is co-author with Arleta Little of MN civil rights icon, Dr. Josie R. Johnson’s memoir, Hope In the Struggle (University of MN Press 2019). Her personal essays have been published widely, most recently in A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (MN Historical Society Press 2016) and Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota (MN Historical Society Press 2015). She is the recipient of three Minnesota State Arts Board grants (2015, 2018, 2020) and a MRAC Next Step grant (2019). In 2016, she was awarded a 50 over 50 award from AARP/Pollen Midwest. Holbrook was the first person of color to win the Minnesota Book Awards Kay Sexton Award (2010). She is founder and artistic/executive director of More Than a Single Story for which she won a MN Women’s Press Changemaker award in 2015, and was founder and director of SASE: The Write Place (1993-2006). She teaches creative writing at the Loft Literary Center and other community venues, and at Hamline University, where she won the Exemplary Teacher award in 2014.

Larry McKenzie is coach, author, educator, and a long-time community and youth advocate with 20 plus years of experience working with urban youth. His service to young people has earned him numerous awards and recognition, including KARE 11’s Eleven Who Care, KTCA’s Everyday Hero, the Minneapolis Park Board’s Volunteer of the Year, and Positive Image Father of the Year.

McKenzie is the first coach to win four straight state titles in the 100-year history of the Minnesota State Boys Basketball. In 2017, Coach McKenzie became the first Coach in Minnesota High School Basketball History to lead two separate schools to multiple titles, both Minneapolis Patrick Henry and Minneapolis North. In 2014, McKenzie became the first African-American Coach selected to the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Alexs Pate is a writer, novelist, Founder of Constructing the Innocent Classroom, and the President and CEO of Innocent Technologies, LLC, a company he founded to end educational disparities by closing the relationship gap between educators and students of color. Constructing the Innocent Classroom puts the ideas and theories present in his writing into practical use for classroom teachers. Pate is the author of five novels, including Amistad which was commissioned by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks/SKG and based on the screenplay by David Franzoni, which became a New York Times Bestseller.


November 18
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries


Capri Theater
2027 West Broadway
Minneapolis, MN, MN 55411 United States
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