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2019 Alliouagana Festival of the Word 



Dr. Emily Bernard

“Writing about Race and the Difference it makes”

We are the stories we tell. For people of color, historically stripped of names and culture, and forbidden to read and write by those in power, storytelling has always served as urgent and fundamental means of literally composing and reclaiming the self. American slave narratives, for instance, provided a platform for singular individuals to tell the story of the plight of their people. The mandate for these individuals was simple and gargantuan: write the kind of story that will free black people. In this way, the literature written by black people in the New World has always been inherently political. What kind of role does the literature of people of color play today? Does the black artist of today labor under a similar mandate? Does art still have the potential to free black people from oppression? Must a black writer make “black” art?  I will address these questions and others in my presentation.

Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills

“Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery: None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds, Spirits and Souls”

Wherever we, people of African ancestry, find ourselves in the world today our safety, health, prosperity, and well-being are compromised. Our lives are devalued—and, all too often, we devalue ourselves. The time is now for healing from the trauma caused by the “lie” of White superiority and Black inferiority, the root cause of the devaluing of Black lives and the underdevelopment of Black communities around the world.  A global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation, led by Community Healing Network, in collaboration with the Association of Black Psychologists, is mobilizing Africans on the Continent and throughout the Diaspora to heal from, and extinguish, the lie and the lingering effects of enslavement and colonialism.  The movement’s leading strategy is the Emotional Emancipation Circle, a self-help support group process, informed by the principles of African psychology, designed to help people of African ancestry across the diaspora create a new African narrative, defined by the truth of Black humanity. Only we can do this work to bring about complete liberation from the lie.  This experiential talk will sketch a picture of the traumatic effects for Black people living under an anti-African/anti-Black European narrative and argue for the pressing need to heal ourselves and to clear the way for our children’s freedom.  It’s time for a new African narrative grounded in the truth of Black humanity.

Edwin Martin

“Montserrat’s Heroes and Legends: Discussing the Contribution of the Recently Departed”

In the span of three months in early 2019, Montserrat lost three icons: Dr. George Irish, Margaret Annie-Dyer Howe and D.R.V. “Frank” Edwards. Their deaths were not just profound losses for the island, but they also signaled the continued demise of the all-rounders, a generation of stalwarts who delved in as many facets of Montserrat society as possible. I will analyze the contributions of each legend and pose the question: Where is the next generation of all-rounders?

Olive Senior

“Hidden from History: West Indian Builders of the Panama Canal”

Hidden from History will relate a story of both heartbreak and triumph – the true story of the West Indians – including many from Montserrat – who helped to build the Panama Canal, many leaving their bones there.  Based on her prizewinning book Dying to Better Themselves, Olive Senior will look at who went, why, what they experienced abroad, and how the Panama experience helped to move the islands into the modern age.


Ta Nehesi Coates

“Reparations are not just about Slavery but also Centuries of Theft and Racial Terror” A video viewing followed by panel discussion of the brilliant rebuttal that Ta Nehesi Coates made to Senator Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell’s contention that the current generation should not be held responsible for past actions.

Derek Walcott

“Steel: A Musical”

A rare opportunity to see the film Steel: The Musicalby Nobel Laureate, poet, playwright, and painter, Sir Derek Walcott. The film’s copyright holder, the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, has given permission for the screening of the movie at the Festival.  The music was composed by Tony award winning Galt MacDermott, the Broadway composer best known for the blockbuster productions Hairand Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The musical tells the story of the steelpan and its internal and external struggles, and has been described as a tribute to the people of the Caribbean, their hardships, triumphs and their sense of community.