Art Sanctuary honors Ebony, JET

Artists, supporters and employees of Art Sanctuary, Slought Foundation and the Mural Arts Program gather at Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia to meet with artist and cultural planner Theaster Gates and Naomi Beckwith, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, to discuss the evolving world of the Black creative. — SHIRA YUDKOFF/TRIBUNE PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of Art Sanctuary’s 28th Annual Celebration of Black Writing, the organization hosted the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony at The Historic Church of the Advocate.

With the yearlong theme of “Growing from Good to Great,” the organization honored JET and Ebony magazines, with JET’s Editor-in-Chief Mitzi Miller accepting on behalf of both, and Marita Golden of the Hurston/Wright Foundation — all institutions that have taken writers from around the globe from good to great.  

“Ebony and JET are just part of our cultural conversation,” Miller said. “They are a part of our lives. Since their inception, their sole purpose has been making sure that our opinions and our voices are heard; making sure that our news is shared and that what we have to say matters.”

For almost three decades, the “Celebration of Black Writing” has sought to deepen Philadelphia's literary life and polish its tourist shine with a rich infusion of African-American writers and artists in all genres.

A one-of- a-kind literary feast, the “Celebration” provides writers and artists an opportunity to discuss their work with up to 1,500–2,000 students, and another 2,000–3,000 people participate in panels, workshops, teachers' symposium, Family Pavilion, main stage, and other events.

The Celebration features up to 75 professional and aspiring writers, editors, publishers, scholars, spoken-word artists, performance artists, playwrights, and filmmakers.

Some of the country’s most innovative culture leaders and thinkers have been lauded over the years including renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni, poet Sonia Sanchez and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Charles Fuller. Supermodel Beverly Johnson, who is also star of the new reality show, ‘Beverly’s Full House’ on OWN, served as event emcee on Friday evening.  

“Writers write—they don’t talk about writing,” said author Bernice McFadden as she introduced Golden. “But then I read 'Migrations of the Heart ' and something in me began to shift. I felt a sense of hope return. Here was a woman, a Black woman, writing her own story, doing exactly what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it. She had not allowed anyone, or anything, to stand in the way...why couldn't I do the same? With each book I read, I became inspired as a woman and as an inspiring writer.”

Golden said writing is a calling and a mission: “Each life contains the seeds of other lives—and 22 years of working in the Hurston/Wright Foundation to create this organization has taught me that this work that the Arts Sanctuary does, that Lorene Cary has done, that I've done, is not just cultural work; it's not just political work; it is deeply, deeply spiritual work because it has such a profound impact on the minds, the hearts and the souls of people.”    


Contact Tribune Staff Writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or

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