By Steve Vinik
BROWARD COUNTY, FL – The South Florida Book Festival is returning to the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) on July 17 and 18, 2015 with an intriguing variety of authors and events. Leading off the festival is talk show host Tavis Smiley, a popular figure on NPR and PBS radio. Currently, Smiley is the host of Tavis Talks on BlogTalkRadio’s Tavis Smiley Network. The library opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Smiley is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m.
Other featured speakers include a trio of entrepreneurs—rocket scientist and media maverick Mary Spio, along with Felecia Hatcher and Sylvester Chisom, who were both singled out as top entrepreneurs by the White House (Hatcher) and by Ebony magazine (Chisom). The authors of the book Justice While Black will join a panel to talk about how the American justice system treats young African-American men; they are Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Chiles and a Georgia attorney, Robbin Shipp.
In a new category this year, Dr. Sonjia will discuss “Sex in South Beach” based on her book of the same name and featuring fun conversations about sex, relationships, and staying healthy between the sheets.
Other author events will cover holistic healing and genealogy. Author Eric Jerome Dickey, a featured author from last year and a library favorite, will be returning this year. Also, three Caribbean authors; Edwidge Danticat, Fr. Albert Cutié and Joanne M. Simpson will discuss their books with panel leader Dr. Susan Lycett Davis, an expert in Jamaican and Caribbean culture.
On Friday evening, July 17 at 6:30 p.m., the book festival gets started with an Evening with the Stars. For $25 in advance or $30 at the door, guests can enjoy meeting the authors at a dressed-up affair complete with food, wine and an auto-graphed book.
A new component to the festival this year is a Chef Smack-down on Saturday evening. This is a ticketed event and includes a chance to sample from four categories of comfort food: fried chicken, mac & cheese, collard greens and cheesecake. After sampling the dishes, the attendees will vote . . . and the winner is . . . to be announced. Entice your taste buds and come join us for fun and great food! This event is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with a limited attendance of 150 guests.
Regional Library Manager Elaina Norlin says, “We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at this event, and we urge everyone to sign up early since spaces fill up very quickly.”
The AARLCC is located at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Call the Welcome Desk at (954) 357-6210.