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Young authors find inspiration from leaders in African American history

2/14/2018, noon | Updated on 2/14/2018, noon
During an African American Literary Festival, in partnership with the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, author Patience Kirkland, said she loves ...
11-year-old Author Nichelle Joi recently wrote her second book entitled “The Mystery of the Missing Artifacts,” said she’s inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Photo Credit: Christopher Shuttlesworth

Young authors find inspiration from leaders in African American history

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

As an historical African American figure in Black History, poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou will long be remembered for her many writings and accomplishments. Angelou, who led a full life, published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. Today, she continues to inspire new authors.

During an African American Literary Festival, in partnership with the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, author Patience Kirkland, said she loves Angelou’s poetry and the way she worded her poems. Kirkland, a native of New York who recently moved to Chicago, wrote a children’s book called, “Urban Girls: Adventures of Little Ladies in the City- Travel,” which teaches children, living in rural areas, how to get around in the city.

Kirkland, who’s also a published photographer, said the inspiration for the book came from a lesson in second grade about traveling on the Manhattan Transit system. “So, I thought my other classmates [outside of class] should know how to travel if they already didn’t,” she said. Through her photography and writing, Kirkland added she wants to inspire and influence the younger generation like Angelou inspires her.

“I think I can reach out to them if they want to learn how to make books or learn about photography,” Kirkland said. “I can help and teach them how to use a camera, increasing their skills in photography and writing as well.”

Another author at the African American Literary Festival was 11-year-old author Nichelle Joi, who recently wrote a book called, “The Joys of Writing”. Joi said the book started off in class when her teacher told the class to write a story from a drawing on the board.

“I wrote a story and since my mind is so complex, I thought of something and it all came together,” Joi said. “It turned into a short story for kids and my mom was like you should make this into a book.” She continued to explain that her most recent book entitled, “The Mystery of the Missing Artifacts” is based on China’s artifacts.

“I wanted this one to be about China because China has creepy, weird, cool artifacts,” Joi said. “I wasn’t planning on being an author, but now that I’m here it’s like ‘Wow.’” Joi said her inspiration comes from Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who she says stood up for what was right.

“I would be too shy,” she said. “My mom says I just want to write a book and stay behind the scenes because, outside of my friends, I don’t like being in front of people I don’t know. But looking up to Dr. King, makes me want to be more in front of people and be the face of my books.”

Currently, both Kirkland and Joi’s books can be purchased on Amazon.com. For more information, visit chipublib.org.