This post was originally published on Defender Network

By Raquel Rogers

When the movie “Hidden Figures” was released in 2017, it opened the doors of curiosity as to what other narratives and contributions of Black women have been erased from the history books. Many Black authors answered the challenge of diving into those untold stories, weaving narratives to educate and entertain with historical fiction.

Dr. Tammy Smithers, founder of The Personal Librarians Book Chat, a global online bookclub, is bringing some of those writers together for an inaugural virtual Women’s History Month program called “Still I Rise: Black Herstory of Resilience and Brilliance” on March 28 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. CST.

Poster featuring six panelists and two facilitators for "Still I Rise: Black Herstory of Resilience and Brilliance"
Poster for “Still I Rise: Black Herstory of Resilience and Brilliance” event

“The rise in the popularity of historical fiction presents an opportunity for storytellers, scholars, authors, publishers and producers,” Smithers said. “Presenting this program is a testament to the achievement of Black authors, hidden figures and women who are still standing no matter who seeks to silence and suppress their voice, purpose or narrative.

“Attendees can glean from this program the importance of correcting the historical record, telling untold truths, and celebrating the role of Black women through America’s existence.”

Smithers says she is excited to see Black female authors pick up the mantle to shine a light on the brilliance and resilience of historical Black figures.

“The social and political ecosystem is being wrought with controversy. However, it is Black women authors who are emboldened to do the research and elucidate the narratives of Black women through a historical and fictionalized context. March marks the international recognition of Women’s History Month. However, Black women are often omitted from the recognition and lumped in with everyone. Our inheritance of resilience and the ways in which our ancestral foremothers overcame is often relegated to oppression and rightfully linked to injustice and struggle. As Black women, the residual effect of our ingenuity is our brilliance – brilliance to build businesses, produce leaders, galvanize movements, lead communities and more,” she said.

The writers serving as “Still I Rise” panelists will discuss their inclusive portraits of the past, how they go about recovering and developing stories that have been lost, forgotten or untold, and unveiling those stories that have been relegated to history’s sidelines. The popular and award-winning authors will discuss their writing and researching process as well as the cultural stimuli for wanting to write these stories.

The virtual audience of women, men, students, authors, other book clubs and interested individuals will learn about what goes into writing in this popular genre.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Michon Benson, assistant professor of English and African American Literature at Texas Southern University.
  • Denny S. Bryce, author whose book about Ella Fitzgerald (entertainer) will be released in 2024.
  • Dr. Piper Huguley, author of Ann Lowe’s (designer) story written and released in 2022 and associate professor of English at Clark Atlanta University.
  • Janis F. Kearney, author of Mahalia Jackson’s (gospel singer) biographical novel.
  • Victoria Christopher Murray, author whose book about Mary McLeod Bethune (educator and activist) will be released on June 27, 2023.
  • ReShonda Tate, author whose debut historical fiction novel about Hattie McDaniel (actress) will be released in January 2024.

Co-Facilitators:

  • Dr. Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, professor of history at Texas Southern University and editor of “Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace.”
  • Dr. Tammy Smithers, co-founder and facilitator of Personal Librarians Book Chat.

Register for the free event at bit.ly/427o8F9.

Plans are already underway for the 2nd Annual Women’s History Month Program, which will take place on March 26, 2024.