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Թϱ Commission for Minority Affairs holds first Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable

<p>From left to right sits publisher Neena Love, publisher and author Walter B. Curry Jr. and author Juan Gonzalez at the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs' first Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable on April 18, 2024. The event, which took place in the Think Tank room at EdVenture Children’s Museum, allowed authors to share their publishing journeys with audience members.</p>
From left to right sits publisher Neena Love, publisher and author Walter B. Curry Jr. and author Juan Gonzalez at the Թϱ Commission for Minority Affairs' first Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable on April 18, 2024. The event, which took place in the Think Tank room at EdVenture Children’s Museum, allowed authors to share their publishing journeys with audience members.

Author Fa’apepele "Pele" Hunkin lives by a simple motto: “Because I have the heart of a warrior, my pain fuels my purpose.”&Բ;

Hunkin’s autobiography, "Heart of a warrior," follows her journey as a Samoan woman facing adversity. Hunkin reached out to the Թϱ Commission for Minority Affairs to network her book last year.

The commission created the Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable soon afterward. 

“(Hunkin) gave us her book and we were like, ‘Okay, we need to do something more,' because there is a need for our stories, as far as the communities that are overlooked, for our stories to be told," Ashley Owens, a co-organizer of the roundtable and African American Affairs Program Coordinator at the commission, said. 

The Թϱ Commission for Minority Affairs is a state agency with a mission to foster social economic growth for minority communities, Jacelyn Arradaza, an intern for the commission, said. She said the commission provides research and resources relevant to the minority groups it supports through its four advisory committees — African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Native American and Hispanic/Latino. 

The first roundtable took place on Thursday, April 18, at the EdVenture Children’s Museum. The roundtable featured seven self-publishing authors who spoke about their publishing journeys as members of ethnic minority groups. 

Arradaza, a recent USC graduate, reached out to the authors taking part in the roundtable. She said minorities are generally silenced and not showcased as much in the publishing industry, emphasizing the need for the roundtable.

SCCMA Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable 2.jpg
Courtesy of Marcee Hudgens

From left to right stands Ivan Segura, Jacelyn Arradaza, Christine Currie, Ashley Owens and Daniel James II at the Թϱ Commission for Minority Affairs' first Minority Self-Publishing Authors Roundtable on April 18, 2024. The event, which took place in the Think Tank room at EdVenture Children’s Museum, allowed authors to share their publishing journeys with audience members.

“(It is important to make) sure that each minority community is represented in the table so that everyone can feel like there’s a chance for them to be an author or an opportunity, kind of feel inspired,” Arradaza said.

During the event, Christie Currie, program coordinator of the Asian and Pacific Islander program at the commission, and Owens asked each participant questions about their individual journeys as authors and publishers. 

Carson Faust, an author at the roundtable, is a member of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe with two upcoming books. Faust said it is his purpose, as an indigenous person from a lesser-known tribe, to tell the story of his people.

“Just because some of us are being published does not mean we are being represented equally across the playing field in the world of publishing,” Faust said. “I’m grateful that so many people ... began that movement, but there’s so much more to be had.”

Dr. Walter B. Curry Jr., another roundtable author, said he had a similar epiphany about telling stories that have never before been told.

“Those of us in the African American community, we know that our history has been hidden for so long,” Curry Jr. said. “For so long, African American history has been placed as African American history by itself. No — African American history is Թϱ history, it’s American history.”

The event reached capacity,  Currie, a co-coordinator of the roundtable, said. Currie said she felt there were great connections made between authors at the roundtable and the other authors and publishers in the audience.

“We just thought we would have a general audience of people that were interested about writing,” Currie said. “But we had a lot of people that just have a love for the written word and reading, so it was great to see that community that always doesn't get to be together in one room come and share their stories.”&Բ;

When Hunkin looked back at the roundtable, she said she felt touched and sees the event expanding in the coming years.

”I always believed that when you want to start helping the world and impact the world, you got to start in-house,” Hunkin said. “And so I wanted to start with this.”&Բ;


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