Virtual roundtable to feature creator of Free Black Women’s Library and a ‘dynamic group of Black women’

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A virtual panel Wednesday evening will bring together seven Black women in conversation about the power of Black women’s narrative and in celebration of the many reflections of their experiences in literature, according to organizers.

Featured speaker OlaRonke Akinmowo is the founder of the Free Black Women’s Library, “a social art project, interactive installation and book collection that celebrates the brilliance, diversity and imagination of Black women writers.”


Based in Brooklyn, New York, the mobile trading library features thousands of books written by Black women and nonbinary Black writers. TFBWL holds workshops, story circles, performances, a reading club and more. As described on its website, the library “provides an inclusive and loving space for reading, writing, resting, learning, creating and connecting. It is a community hub, love letter and resource.”

Moderator Bulaong Ramiz, of Lawrence, is an “educator, doula, and alchemist.” She was recently hired as senior director of equity at the KIPP Foundation

Join the panel
The panel, set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, is free to attend virtually. Register to join the Zoom meeting via this link.

Ramiz in December left her position as director of the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity at the University of Kansas. During her time in that role, the center began partnering with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to hold live readings of works in connection with the TFBWL 2021 Reading Challenge. The challenge asked readers to pick from a variety of topics and types of books written by Black women and nonbinary Black writers.

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s panel, “This is really a celebration or uplifting of the brilliance, creativity, and contributions made by Black women thinkers and writers,” Ramiz said. “A chance to honor our stories, our voices and be in conversation with each other during this month and beyond as we engage in The Free Black Women’s 2022 challenge.” 

Panelists will include: 

• Kristianna Smith, a “liberation facilitator, theatre artist, gardener, experience alchemist and Queer Black Mama.” Learn more from her website. Find her on Instagram: @mochaeinstein27. A favorite book by a Black woman: “The Inheritance Trilogy,” by N. K. Jemisin.

• Niya Denise McAdoo, a senior at KU and president of the KU student body. She was previously co-organizer of the KU Black Student Coalition. See and read some of their visual and written works in The Kiosk Magazine at this link. A favorite book by a Black woman: “Working the Roots: Over 400 Years of Traditional African American Healing,” by Michele Lee.

• Gabbie Barnes, a self-described “catalyst.” She has worked in public, academic, and special libraries over the last 15 years, according to her website. Her professional goal is to “make libraries more empathetic spaces for teenagers, specifically Black and brown youth.” A favorite book by a Black woman: “Parable of the Sower,” by Octavia E. Butler.

• Jameelah Jones, a “community activist, digital marketer, sister, daughter, and friend. I am a Queer, gender fluid, Black internet cool kid.” Her writing includes this column on Juneteenth for the Times. Read more on their website, A favorite book by a Black woman: “An American Marriage,” by Tayari Jones.

• Sade Green, a writer, activist, and poet. She gave a TED talk called “Our Seat at the Table,” recorded at this link. Read some of her works via this link. A favorite book by a Black woman: “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. 

Learn more about moderator Ramiz at this link

The panel is free to attend virtually. Register to join the Zoom meeting via this link. It is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9. 

Event sponsors include Haus of McCoy, the Raven Book Store, Ramiz-Hall Consulting, Luz Burgos, University of Minnesota Duluth, Sol Services, Hannah Sims and The Lawrence Times. 

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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