Students Can Win Cash and Scholarships and Show Off Poetry/Playwriting Skills for James Weldon Johnson Young Writer's Festival

Friday, May 27, 2022

Are you a student or parent of a student who loves writing poetry or plays? Don't miss the opportunity to win cash and scholarships and show off those skills in the Friends of Brentwood Library's inaugural James Weldon Johnson Young Writer's Festival in partnership with the City of Jacksonville, Duval County Public Schools, and Jacksonville Public Library.

#$6,400 Up for Grabs in Poetry & Dramatic Arts Literacy Contest

Hurry before time runs out! Students in grades 3-12 register for free by Friday, June 10 to enter the James Weldon Johnson Poetry & Dramatic Arts Literacy Contest at

To enter, students can write a poem of 10-25 lines inspired by Lift Every Voice and Sing (the song written by James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson that would go on to become the Black National Anthem), or on any subject of the student's choosing. 

Students who are more interested in movies or the theater can write an original dramatic monologue, 3-5 minutes long, on the life and contributions of a significant African American of the past or present. The tone may be serious or humorous. If selected, the student will also have the opportunity to perform the monologue during the festival. 

For complete rules and to register and enter, visit

#Young Writer's Festival Scheduled for June 15-19

Not only will the awards be given out during the James Weldon Johnson Young Writer's Festival, but there will be opportunities to learn and interact with bestselling authors, world-class musicians and composers, award-winning folklorists, and national and local community leaders.

The Friends of Brentwood Library created this festival to use poetry and visual and performing arts to help students find ways to get more engaged in academics, inspire them to achieve better in school, and learn how to use their talents to interact with the world around them. Writing helps children and youth express their feelings and better understand themselves and others. 

Here are some highlights of the week:

#June 15 – 18, Conference Center at the Main Library, 8:15 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

UNF Writing Lab - Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and education materials included. Workshops taught by authors, certified teachers, and professional artists.

Workshop headliners: 

  • OrisiRisi African Folklore group - a performing arts company that uses folktales, legends, myths, music, dance, children's games, and other African rooted folklore to teach, entertain and illuminate the beauty and poignancy of African life and culture.
  • Paul Udouj - ASCAP member with 30 years of experience as an artist and executive in the music and film industries.
  • Dr. Cornelius Jones - Amazon Bestselling author, writing coach, veteran, and entrepreneur. 
  • Ty Allan Jackson - Award-winning children’s book author, literacy advocate, three-time TEDx speaker, and honorary Doctorate recipient.
  • Bishop Bruce Allen - Two-time Stellar Award-winning co-founder of the Inspirational Jazz Duo Allen & Allen.

#June 18, James Weldon Johnson Park, noon - 5 p.m.

James Weldon Johnson Birthday Celebration

  • Terry Doc Handy and his Northside Jazz Ensemble
  • James Weldon Johnson Young Writer's Mass Choir and student showcase/poetry jam
  • Hope at Hand, Inc. - Poet I Am LoveRegins - Taryn Wharwood
  • Ray Mezo Jazz Ensemble
  • James Weldon Johnson's Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Tribute Performance

James Weldon Johnson Park Kids Zone 3-5 p.m.

  • Captain Character - voted best kids show performer  by Jax4Kids

#June 19, James Weldon Johnson Park, 2 - 5 p.m.

Celebrating Juneteenth

  • Young Authors Awards Ceremony
  • James Weldon Johnson Young Writers Festival Mass Choir
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sheila Flemming-Hunter- Past president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), a past professor at Bethune-Cookman University, University of Texas, University of Maryland, and Clark Atlanta University. Author of Bethune-Cookman College 1904-1994: The Answered Prayer to a Dream. Dr. Flemming-Hunter is also an entrepreneur and leader among local, national, and international organizations on international education, race relations, women and children's issues, strategic planning, and capacity building.
  • Hope at Hand, Inc - Poet I Am LoveReigns - Taryn Wharwood
  • Longinue Parsons, II - Trumpeter and Associate Professor of Music at Florida A&M University. Has played for Cab Calloway, Doc Severinsen, Herbie Mann, Branford Marsalis, and many more in over 300 countries worldwide.

The festival is free and open to all. For more information, visit

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