By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
The Second Annual F.R.E.S.H Book Festival brought authors to the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center on George W. Engram Boulevard in Daytona Beach on Jan. 4-5.
At the event authors shared their experiences while encouraging others to write and publish their work.
"We want to network. Another problem that we have is that our genres are not often published by the big guys. We need to stick together to make sure we get our word out," said Donna Gray-Banks, the event's creator and organizer.
Another goal of the event was to encourage adults to do more reading.
"This was started because literacy is a legacy and we need to read more. Adults need to read more. If, adults don't read their children won't. If, the parents read the kids will be motivated to do so," Ms. Banks said.
This year's event was highlighted by authors Janis F. Kearney and Pastor Riva Tims.
Kearney is the author of Conversations: "William Jefferson Clinton ... from Hope to Harlem," an oral biography centered on Bill Clinton's presidency. She also wrote "Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir," a book about her life from humble beginnings.
"I gained experiences that I never imagined. I learned a lot about presidential history, leadership roles within government and how it all works. I got a chance to sit in a front row seat of history. I saw history happen daily and was responsible of writing about it," Ms. Kearney said.
Pastor Tims is the wife of the late Pastor Dr. Zachary Tims and author of "When It Falls Apart: Finding Healing, Joy and Victory".
"Events like this are important. There is an old saying that, 'If you want to hide something from the black community, put it in a book.' We must destroy that cliché. We are successful in writing and we have something to say in writing," said Pastor Tims.
Many authors with local ties also were there, including Judge Hubert Grimes, author of "How To Keep Your Kid From Going to Jail" and Bethune-Cookman University student James Bennett, author of "A Manual: A Guide to Achievement."
"My book is a guide to success, achievement and enlightenment in the urban community. Many times people strive to succeed, but don't have the necessary tools. The Manual gives them the mental aspects of self-reliance to do so. When speaking at schools, I often get a slow stare but I often reach kids because some can relate," Mr. Bennett said.
"My book is from my experiences from the bench working with the juvenile courts for the past 11 years," Judge Grimes said. "In the courts we actually turn around 80 percent of kids. The book aims to work with young people and redirect them to make positive contributions to society. It stresses time-honored principals and common sense that my parents instilled in me. The hope is that we can get kids turned around before they get into trouble.
"I find that a lot of parents aren't equipped," he said. "The children are often distracted with technology, but just need a little time spent on values."
Some other local authors on hand were Dr. Evelyn Bethune, author of "Bethune: Out Of The Darkness Into Freedom;" Michelle Donice, author of "The Other Side of Through;" Dr. Willie Kimmons, author of "A Parenting Guide Book;" and Inez Bracy, author of "Rejuvenate Your Life: 21 Days to Feel like a Woman Again" and "Simple Pleasures."
Local leaders were pleased with the event and what it brought to the community.
"It's an honor for us to have this center host such an event of this magnitude. It offers a great cultural opportunity for our community," City Commissioner Paula Reed said.
City Commissioner Patrick Henry said, "This is a wonderful chance for us to use this center, which is designed not only for athletics, but cultural events.
Ms. Banks and others involved hope to see the event grow in years to come.
"We hope to make it bigger and better in the future and get more young adults involved," she said.
"This is a wonderful occasion. I was also here last year. The event has grown over a year. These events are good for a community. I am hoping that the city is proud of it and it continues to grow and get better," Ms. Kearney said.