Book festival brings guest authors to Northampton County

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON – Everyone is invited to the George Moses Horton Book Festival, set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Northampton Memorial Library in Jackson.

“We’re excited. It’s the first book festival ever in Northampton County,” said organizer Shelia Moses, who grew up in Rich Square and has published several books throughout her career.

The festival is named after George Moses Horton, a poet who was born into slavery in 1798 but later garnered attention for his writings. He was able to publish his first poetry collection in 1829, becoming the first African American man to publish a book in the South.

“He left behind a legacy of hope for generations to come,” Moses said.

Horton was born in Northampton County, but later moved to Chatham County.

“He’s rarely mentioned in Northampton County or its history,” she continued. “And because he was a writer and a poet, I thought it would be great to name the book festival to honor him.”

Moses said she’d been thinking about the book festival idea for years. One of the goals is to give people an opportunity to meet with authors from near and far. Students, for example, will be able to speak with the writers who penned books they read in their classrooms.

The featured authors for the event will be Arthur C. Grant, Njeri Santana-Carter, Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, Tameka Fryer Brown, and Caitlin Gooch.

Grant, who detailed family history in his book, is a local author from Northampton County.

Santana-Carter is a Washington D.C.-based children’s book author.

Fryer Brown is also the author of several children’s books, including one telling the story of trailblazer Shirley A. Chisholm.

Dr. Tyson, who works at both Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, is a historian who has written many books about Black history, including “The Blood of Emmett Till.”

Gooch, known as “The Black Cowgirl,” is a children’s book author and also the founder of the nonprofit Saddle Up and Read.

In addition to meeting with the guest authors, there will be a variety of activities and giveaways throughout the event. Moses mentioned rock painting as one of the fun events for attendees to enjoy.

Moses thanked Lillie Pernell, Branch Manager of Northampton Memorial Library, and Hugh Davis, Albemarle Regional Library Director, who partnered with her to host the festival. She said they both have been very supportive, especially helping with logistics, costs, and more.

“This would not have been possible without the library,” she stated. “They have really stepped up and made this a beautiful event.”

Moses said the long-term goal would be to host the book festival event either annually or every other year, and to bring in more visiting authors from all around the country.

She invited people of all ages to attend this year’s event.

“We want people to have a lot of fun, read a lot of books, and know that George Moses Horton existed,” she concluded.