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Hillary Clinton at BEA; Queens Book Festival; Black Pack Party

A great turnout of authors, publishers, and people who enjoy books at the Queens Book Festival 2017; the 11th Annual Black Pack Party is like a family reunion

In this video, Troy Johnson, CEO, and Webmaster,, and Ruth Morrison are talking about the Queens Book Festival 2017, Hillary Clinton's conversation at Book Expo America, and the 11th Annual Black Pack Party which was held on the opening night of Book Expo America 2017, at Clyde Frazier's Wine and Dine in New York City.

 At the Queens Book Festival, among the many people in attendance, Troy met Shaun Randol, Editor-in-Chief, and Publisher, The Mantle, who is embarking on publishing African authors such as Stanley Gazemba.

Gazemba is a writer from Kenya. In 2010, according to NPR, Gazemba had written five novels — one that was published — two collections of short stories and six published children's books.

A notable exhibitor was the Griots Republic, publishers of Black Travel: An Anthology, which is a collection of photos and stories from Black people who have traveled all over the world.

  • Published in Authors

Top 9 Highlights of Hillary Clinton’s Q&A at Book Expo America 2017

Hillary Clinton Talks Politics, Resilience, & Books at BEA 2017

Billed as An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton by Book Expo America, the nation’s largest book trade convention, pant-suited Hillary Clinton walked on the Main Stage at Jacob Javits Center before a filled-to-capacity audience whose standing ovation and boisterous cheers greeted her, as she made her way to her seat next to a round coffee table. The last time the nation expected to see her at Jacob Javits Center was in November 2016, for her presidential election victory party. Instead, she lost the election. Several months later, on this inaugural day of June, she was victorious. Indeed, the first question asked by one in the audience, “Do you know how much you mean to us and how much we love you?” seemed to frame the evening.

For the next hour, she spoke with passion, conviction, laugh-out-loud humor, and deep pathos about topics ranging from being the first woman nominated by the Democratic party for president to her painful loss in her historic bid for our nation’s highest public office in 2016 to her Wellesley College speech in 1969 and her upcoming memoir to be published by Simon and Schuster this September.

In an engaging, thoughtful, and sometimes surprisingly vulnerable and other times lightly playful Q & A, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cheryl Strayed, Hillary Clinton left me feeling that perhaps this history-making woman and politician has always lived a life of extraordinary challenge; a life that has helped her build up her resilience, almost like an inoculation helps one build up immunity. Indeed, “resilience” was one of the recurring themes of the hour-long talk.

In a response to Strayed’s question about her upcoming memoir, Clinton said, “in a way that I think is not just about me and not just about an election, but about resilience, about getting back up when you’re knocked down, because everybody is, where you find the courage to do that, and what helps you along the way. And it’s proven to be an extraordinary, very personally meaningful but painful experience; it really is painful.”

I was pleased to discover that reading books is one of the ways that Hillary Clinton faces life’s adversities and builds her resilience, particularly a life that has overwhelmingly been spent in the public eye. Clinton called writing her as-yet-untitled memoir a "very painful" experience, but one that is "not only good for my mental's important for us to come to grips with what we need to do for the country in the future."

In the hour-long talk with Strayed, Clinton never voiced the name of the man who won the 2016 presidential election.

Here are some highlights of the book-focused Q & A with Hillary Clinton:

1)  Hillary Rodham Clinton autographed book label: All attendees received this keepsake from the evening

2) Clinton’s Favorite book growing up: The Nancy Drew Mysteries.

3) Among her top favorite books: The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Hillary Clinton noted she was surprised to learn this book is also a favorite of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

4) Reading immediately after her 2016 presidential election defeat: Louise Penny mysteries 

5) Just finished reading: The Jersey Brothers, by Sally Mott Freeman.

6) New, picture book version of her 1996 children’s book: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, shares her vision for children in America. To be published September 2017.

7) Daughter Chelsea’s new children’s book: She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton. The picture book tells stories of 13 historical women who faced opposition but persisted in pursuing their goals.

8) Hillary Rodham's Wellesley College address in 1969: 

9) Her new political group -- local, grass-roots organization for activism: Onward Together 

You can view the hour-long An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton, at Book Expo America 2017 here.

Troy Johnson Recommends Book Events for May 2017

In this conversation, Troy Johnson, President, AALBC, talks with Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What's The 411TV, about the upcoming book and literary events in New York City during the latter part of April and May 2017:

  • PEN World’s Festival a week-long celebration of authors from all over the world
  • Queens Book Festival
  • Bronx Book Festival
  • BookExpo America, North America’s largest book industry event, May 31 – June 2, 2017
  • BookCon immediately follows BEA in New York City on June 3-4, 2017. Kevin Hart is one of the headlining authors scheduled to attend BookCon 2017.


African-Americans in Book Industry Gather for 9th Annual Black Pack Party

Londel's in Harlem, the site for the Black Pack aka Blacks in the Book Industry Party

This year marks the 9th year of the Black Pack Party, which is held during Book Expo America, the largest book industry forum in North America. The gathering is an opportunity for publishing professionals to mix, mingle, and trade book industry news and insights. I have attended the Black Pack Party only once before, several years ago, when it was also held at Londel's. This year, just as then, the restaurant was jam-packed, vibrantly buzzing like a well-syncopated harmony. The event is presented annually by Linda Duggins, Michelle Gibson (Written Magazine), Troy Johnson (, and a different guest host every year.

I caught sight of Blood Sweat and Heels reality star and author Demetria Lucas D'Oyley, who is also well-known for her A Belle in Brooklyn blog, along with several authors whose works I plan to explore:

Black-Pack-Party Demetria-Lucas-DOyley-and-another-author-at-Londels 05272015 650x867Blood Sweat and Heels reality star and author Demetria Lucas D'Oyley (right), who is also well-known for her A Belle in Brooklyn blog


Black-Pack-Party Victoria-Christopher-Murray Luvon-Roberson-at-Londels 05272015 650x645Photo left to right: Victoria Christopher Murray, author of Stand Your Ground and 20 more books; and What's The 411 Book Editor, Luvon Roberson

Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than 20 books and her upcoming release, Stand Your Ground, has received a Library Journal starred review. The new novel centers on two women facing the same tragedy. A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground or was it murder?  

K. Edwards makes her debut as an author with Five Nincompoops, the Princess and One Saviour,  a story of love, marriage, and looking for “the one,” told through the hilarious yet sometimes painful life experiences of Princess 

In her novel, Divergent Lives, Minnie Lahongrais tells us about RJ and Adina, who enter the world as fraternal twins, one raised by old-world, controlling immigrants in El Barrio, the other sold into a religious home filled with lies and scorn. 


Black-Pack-Party Minnie-Lahongrais Luvon-Roberson-at-Londels 05272015 650x867Photo left to right: Minnie Lahongrais, author of Divergent Lives, with What's The 411 Book Editor, Luvon Roberson

Scanning the crowded space, I see a PR maven who says he knows Black Pack Party's presenter Duggins from their college days and introduces me to her. Duggins, Senior Director of Publicity at Grand Central Publishing, not only graciously offers me an overview of the annual event, but also connects me with Adrienne Ingrum, Senior Manuscript Editor at Hachette, and other professionals in the publishing industry.

Black-Pack-Party Linda-Duggins luvon-Robers-at-Londels 05272015 650x867Photo left to right: What's The 411 Book Editor, Luvon Roberson; and Linda Duggins, Senior Director of Publicity at Grand Central Publishing

That kind of mixing and mingling is what keeps the Black Pack Party a must-attend event during Book Expo America. Indeed, not even the sudden rain shower could dampen the buzz of excitement and purpose of this gathering of book lovers and publishing industry pros. Perhaps many see the event as a rare opportunity to be in-community and key to helping make #WeNeedDiverseBooks a reality. 

For more about The Black Pack Party, visit:

For information about Book Expo America -- North America's largest gathering of book trade professionals attracting an international audience – visit BEA website:

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