Bookfest Adds Inspirational Spice to Summer Fun

Some of the country's top African American authors who have made a mark in the literary world will gather in Greater Fort Lauderdale at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center for the South Florida Book Festival July 17-18 to introduce their latest work and tell other aspiring writers and book lovers how they did it.

Award-winning journalist and talk show host Tavis Smiley will be one of the featured authors making a special appearance at the "Evening to the Stars," a dressed-up affair and book signing on Friday night that kicks off the festival. On Saturday, the NPR radio and television commentator and interviewer will talk about his new book, My Journey with Maya Angelou.

Other highlights of the free Saturday lineup show why this festival has become one of the country's top book events drawing hundreds of visitors and residents to the library, a cultural gem in the heart of Fort Lauderdale's historic Black community. Pulitzer Prize winning author Nick Chiles and co-author, Georgia attorney Robbin Shipp, are set to provide timely insights into crime and punishment in the U.S. as they discuss their new NAACP Image Award finalist book Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System. Eric Jerome Dickey, a perpetual New York Times bestseller and prolific contemporary fiction writer with more than 21 books to his credit, will read excerpts from his latest provocative thriller, One Night, and his new novel, Naughty or Nice. Nationally heralded entrepreneurs, including rocket scientist and media maverick Mary Spio, will share stories about brash, inventive routes of financial success and Sex and South Beach author Dr. Sonja will lead a frank conversation on the intimacies of modern relationships.

A new event this year will be the" Chef Smackdown" on Saturday night, a special evening of competitive cooking and samplings of soul food creations that closes out the weekend. Ticketed events are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

The South Florida Book Festival kicks off what is shaping up to be a summer of inspiration, information, recreation and family reunion fun for the multicultural traveler in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

The National Urban League brings its high-profile conference to the area for the first time July 28-31 with high-profile speakers, presidential candidates and "Save Our Cities" agenda that looks at issues relevant to the African American community nationally and strategies for solutions. Pre-and post-conference activities will include informative events highlighting local culture, youth involvement, health initiatives, and business and career opportunities. Radio personality and entrepreneur Tom Joyner will bring his nationally broadcast program to Fort Lauderdale for a live feed from the Convention Center during the conference.

As work continues on a plan to create a permanent home for the American Tennis Association in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the country's oldest Black tennis organization has made tennis a summer family reunion tradition in the area.

Thousands of Black tennis players, tennis enthusiasts, and their families will once again converge Aug. 2-8 for the 98th Annual Conference and Championships of the ATA. Players from 8 to 80 will take over four of the area's top tennis courts for enthusiastic rounds of competitive matches, youth development workshops and special events, parties and camaraderie.

This summer, the area is teeming with visitors from around the country enjoying summer fun.