The Many Roles of the Black Writer: An Appreciation of Calvin C. Hernton

Room 2215B, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level
Thursday, February 8, 2024
9:00 am to 10:15 am


Calvin C. Hernton (1932-2001) is renowned as an anti-racist sociologist, literary critic, champion of Black women, and a founder of Umbra, which was a model for the 1960s Black Arts Movement. He is less well-known as a poet but recent attention has generated much acclaim. Based on new appraisals of his stature as a major poet, this panel will reveal him as an overlooked but very important figure who insisted on combining the roles of critic, teacher, poet, race theorist, and social commentator.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_Hernton_Event_Outline_Updated_.pdf



Lauri Scheyer is Xiaoxiang Distinguished Professor, creative writing director, and poetry center director at Hunan Normal University (China). She is also the founding director of the center for contemporary poetry and poetics and Professor Emeritus of English and creative writing at Cal State LA.

Tyrone Williams is the author of seven books of poetry: washpark (with Patrick Clifford), As iZ, Howell, Adventures of Pi, The Hero Project of the Century, On Spec, and c.c. He teaches literature and literary theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati Ohio.

David Grundy is the author of A Black Arts Poetry Machine: Amiri Baraka and the Umbra Poets and Never by Itself Alone: Queer Poetry in Boston and San Francisco, 1943–Present, coeditor with Lauri Scheyer of Selected Poems of Calvin C. Hernton, and currently a Humboldt Research Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin.

Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, Professor Emerita from Spelman College, is an internationally recognized Langston Hughes scholar. She has published one monograph on Hughes's Simple stories and has edited four volumes of short fiction by Hughes.

Kathy Lou Schultz is a poet-scholar. Her scholarship includes a collection of essays, Introduction to Claudia Rankine, and The Afro-Modernist Epic and Literary History: Tolson, Hughes, Baraka. She is the author of four collections of poetry including Some Vague Wife and Biting Midge: Works in Prose.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center