Program features ‘Telling Their Stories: Trailblazing Black Women Writers in Louisiana’

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana will celebrate Black History Month with a virtual presentation featuring author Ann B. Dobie, author of Black Women Writers of Louisiana: Telling Their Stories, and joined by Dr. Phebe Hayes. The recorded presentation will be available on YouTube and Facebook on Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

The presentation will profile three of the early Black women writers of Louisiana – Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Sybil Kein, and Pinkie Gordon Lane – who as trailblazers charted a way for other women writers through their stories, poems, dramas, journalism and more. They not only made a name for themselves as writers, teachers and cultural promoters, they changed the literary landscape by introducing readers to their worlds and their cultures. Their lives, as women and as writers, have a fascinating history of their own. 

“Louisiana is rich with Black history and culture, and we honor that diversity with the State Library’s Black History Month program each year,” Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser said. “The contributions of the Black women writers featured in this year’s program have significantly shaped Louisiana’s literary heritage.” 

Ann B. Dobie is professor emerita of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she directed graduate studies in rhetoric and the university’s writing-across-the-curriculum program. She has also directed a summer institute at the University of Vermont and worked with the Malta Writing Program in Valletta, Malta. She is the author or co-author of fifteen books, compiler and editor of three literary anthologies, and author of numerous articles on literature and composition. She founded the National Writing Project of Acadiana and served as director for 13 years. Her current research interest is Louisiana literature. 

Since retiring from academia in 2013, Dr. Phebe A. Hayes has devoted herself to uncovering the hidden histories of African Americans in Louisiana. In 2018, she founded the nonprofit organization The Iberia African American Historical Society, the mission of which is to research, teach, and commemorate the true and inclusive history of Iberia Parish. As president of the society, she successfully submitted applications for state historic markers to the Louisiana Office of Tourism highlighting significant minority individuals and events in Iberia Parish. Dr. Hayes’s essays have been published in 64 Parishes and Acadiana Profile Magazine, and she has written reviews and/or forewords for many other historians. She is currently preparing manuscripts for publication about the history of African Americans in Iberia Parish.  

“Black women are often under-represented and under-celebrated, yet we are seeing more and more light shed on their accomplishments and stories,” State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton said. “Ann B. Dobie has been a friend of the State Library of Louisiana and the Louisiana Book Festival for many years, and we are glad to have her former colleague Dr. Hayes joining her for this program. We are so grateful to them and to showcase this new book and the women in it: women who were and are ahead of their time.” 


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