Art Sanctuary

Art Sanctuary


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 Art Sanctuary had renowned black science fiction writers Octavia Butler,

Samuel R. Delany, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, and Toure together

 at one venue, the Franklin Institute reading and talking about their craft.



Art Sanctuary Expands 

Celebration of Black Writing Conference

By Junious Ricardo Stanton


For nineteen years Larry Robbins a Jewish bookstore owner spearheaded and worked with several local Philadelphia writers/activists to produce the Celebration of Black Writing Conference. Two years ago he decided it was time to fuse new blood into the conference. He put out a call for stalwart souls to accept the baton and Lorene Cary’s fledgling group, Art Sanctuary readily accepted the challenge. Art Sanctuary is a North Philadelphia community based program that uses the power of black art to transform, unite and draw inspiration from the inner city.

Last year Mr. Robbins and Art Sanctuary produced the conference jointly. This year it was solely Art Sanctuary. Art Sanctuary kept the basic theme of the conference, which was to celebrate and promote black writing, share information about writing, publishing and the state of black writing with aspiring writers, honor those who blazed the trail and expand the conference to include greater interaction between writers and the community. Art Sanctuary founder and Executive Director Lorene Cary, a published author and tenured university professor, relished the opportunity to keep the vision of the conference alive.

“Larry came to us and asked if we would do this, and we said, ‘we’d love it; it’s absolutely on our mission.’ We were a little scared; we are a new organization. Celebration is nineteen years old and we’re only four and half but we said we’d try to grow to the challenge. Last year was our transition year; we worked with Larry to put it on. This year we’re experimenting with the format; we’re trying to fold in suggestions from many people. We started in July gathering together an advisory committee of about thirty people who helped us think through a huge laundry list of suggestions we collected from people last year and prioritize them. Based upon their recommendations: increasing the visibility of the award and awardee, establishing the criteria for the award, increasing our marketing, making the award ceremony a fun filled multi-media affair and themed reading nights, we established our schedule and itinerary.”

This year Art Sanctuary expanded the conference from a three-day weekend to a four-day event. To help pull it off, they established local partnerships with the University of Pennsylvania, corporate sponsorships and support from entities such as BET Books, Citizens Bank, Philadelphia City Council, Tasty Baking Company, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Lomax Family Foundation, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, New City Writing, Friends of the Free Library, Temple University’s Institute for Literature and Culture and the Philadelphia Commerce Department. They also leveraged their relationships with Community College of Philadelphia, Church of the Advocate, Black United Fund of Pennsylvania, The Franklin Institute and the Free Library of Philadelphia to build upon Robbins’s yeoman work and take the conference to another level.

For the first time anywhere, Art Sanctuary had renowned black science fiction writers Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, and Toure together at one venue, the Franklin Institute reading and talking about their craft. The special effects of the Franklin Institute Museum provided an added attraction. They had over 2,000 people at Irvin Auditorium to see and hear this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Chinua Achebe on Friday afternoon.

Their Writers-in-Schools program sent fifteen big name writers into Philadelphia inner city schools to interact with students on Thursday and Friday. The Saturday panel discussions which included a stellar line up of panelists and experts who also facilitated workshops for aspiring writers and bibliophiles this year included journalism and book collecting workshops as well as the usual poetry, screen writing, publishing, play writing, non-fiction and fiction workshops.

The expanded format offered something for everyone—a Friday evening reading and signing on Black Love with Elaine Brown, Nick Chiles, Michael Datcher, Leslie Esdaile, Selwyn Sefu Hinds and Denene Millner was held at the Church of the Advocate. Saturday evening following the panel discussions and workshops at Community College which featured Valerie Boyd (journalism) Nega Mezlekia (Fiction) Elaine Brown (Non-Fiction), Janet Hill (Publishing), Trapeta Mayson (Poetry), Ed Shockley (Playwriting), and Sam Pollard (Screenwriting), moderated by Michael Datcher. The Award Ceremony was at the main branch Free Library. The weather put a damper on the Sunday activities scheduled for The Church of The Advocate.

Except for the weather, Project Coordinator Jeffrey Hart was ecstatic about how the four day conference turned out. “There weren’t as many nightmares as there could have been. We had five different venues we worked with this year. In working with five different venues, the challenge for me was to make sure I kept connection with all five venues from the University of Pennsylvania’s Irvin Auditorium, to the Library, to Community College, to the Church of the Advocate, to Franklin Institute. Sometimes there were struggles but it was a logistical thing especially with this weather.”

This year’s expanded format was especially gratifying for Hart because of the increased community involvement. “The Franklin Institute probably never had a Black History Month Program like we had for them with the likes of Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany. And we had Achebe here. We had name writers going to schools and two women’s shelters. BET Books donated one hundred books and we’re giving them to the shelters. These authors were able to go there and share their experiences and give of themselves and they did it without one instance of hesitation. We’re happy with what we’re doing” Hart stated. “Our volunteers have been unbelievable they’ve taken on the responsibility and stepped up to the plate. It reminds me of the old days when everybody just pitched in and helped. Adding on the new things just meant more detail and attention to detail by me, making sure I had accessibility for people with disabilities, things we take for granted. The challenge was just being on top of everything.”

Art Sanctuary continues their program with a fund raising concert featuring Rachelle Ferrell on Friday March 7th at 7 PM. For more details about the myriad programs at Art Sanctuary visit their Website

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest “real progress toward freedom and justice.” Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. “This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him.” —John Pilger In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.—Publisher’s Weekly


The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 January 2012




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