Comedian Dick Gregory, drum major for civil rights and good world nutrition, highlights the 2003 Pan African Bookfest and Cultural Conference Saturday at the Rev. Samuel Delevoe Park in Fort Lauderdale. Gregory will discuss his latest book, his second autobiography -- Callus on My Soul: A Memoir. "I've lived long enough to need two autobiographies," he laughs. The first one, Nigger, was published in 1963, long before he did most of the things for which he's well-known, like run against Nixon for prez or fast for the release of the Iranian hostages. Why did he title the book with the infamous n-word? In the forward, he explains: "Whenever you hear the word 'Nigger,' you'll know they're advertising my book." It has sold 7 million copies to date.
Gregory is only one part of a day that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is chock-a-block with cultural happenings. For the bookfest part of the event, an "Authors and Publishers Pavilion" will hold more than 40 booths with writers and publishers of books of pan-African interest who are eager to discuss them with you. At the same time, a series of workshops and panel discussions on issues of concern to the pan-African reading community -- love and romance, memoirs, urban inspiration, sisterhood -- will be held at the Culture Cafe.
While the adults get all serious, the kids get all the fun. A youth activity center at the Culture Cafe holds sessions on storytelling, ethnic art, face-painting, mask-making, and costume-making. Once they've made and donned their costumes, masks, and facial paint, kids will stage a Junkanoo parade around the park grounds.
Actually, grownups won't be completely left out of the fun. On the Kuumba stage, there'll be African dance demonstrations, drumming circles, spoken-word performances, pan playing, black yoga, Egyptian belly-dancing, and head wrapping. Enough to keep everyone busy for considerably longer than one afternoon.