Givens Foundation selects 2013 featured author



By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Black historical fiction writer Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is this year’s featured author for Givens Black Books 2013.Rhodes.37

Givens Black Books is a community reading campaign sponsored by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. The organization has been involved in increasing cultural understanding and learning and celebrating Black authors for 40 years.

Rhodes, currently a professor at Arizona State University, is the author of eight novels, four of which — Voodoo Dreams (1995), Magic City (1998), Douglass’ Women (2003) and Ninth Ward (2012) — are this year’s Given Black Books selected works. Her “historical narrative and research” was a primary reason for selecting Rhodes, says Arleta Little, the foundation’s executive director.

Rhodes will be featured at a literary luncheon April 13, 11:30 am at the Hilton Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport-Mall of America.

The 17th annual luncheon, co-sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, is “a celebratory occasion,” says Little, who adds that such events have attracted upwards of 400 people in attendance. “It is an opportunity for [the] community to really hear the authors highlight some of the aspects of their work. It’s an opportunity for folk to connect with folk who are really writing our history and detailing our narrative for future generations.”

Despite the popularity movies and TV, reading books still is very valuable, continues Little. “People who are actually reading a narrative, and in the case with our books and authors we choose, people of color and the African American community, have the opportunity to fill in the blanks with characters and events that look like them, and families and stories that look like them.”

The Givens family name has become associated with local Black cultural advancement. “I think the name is synonymous with a variety of enterprises in the community,” explains Little, “but always related to the uplift of the African American community, especially here in the Twin Cities and in Minnesota. We are a literary arts organization.

“We are dedicated to showcasing the imagination and intelligence that can be found in African American culture,” concludes Little. “We are always celebrating and advocating African American literature and voices. That is what we do with our programming, and that is what we do as an organization.”


For more information on the 2012 Givens Black Books Community Reading Campaign and the April 13 luncheon featuring Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes, email or go to

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to chall