Bestselling author Pearl Cleage kicks off FAMU’s Artists In Bloom Festival

Courtesy of The Root

An essential conversation with Pearl Cleage in the Charles Winter Wood Theatre Friday marked the beginning of the Artists in Bloom Festival at Florida A&M University.

Pearl Cleage, award-winning playwright and bestselling author, shared her wisdom and inspiration behind some of her greatest works with the Tallahassee community Friday evening.

The fifth annual Artists in Bloom Festival is a celebration of art, film, music, theatre, literature and health awareness.

Dr. Valencia Matthews, dean of the college of social science, Arts and Humanities, spoke highly of Cleage during an interview with WXTL Sunrise.

“Our keynote guest speaker is Pearl Cleage, who is an amazing playwright, journalist and author of many books. As a matter of fact one of her major opportunities came when Oprah Winfrey asked her to write a poem for the legends ball,” Matthews said to WTXL.

Cleage addressed the disconnection between generations during her keynote speech.  

“I felt the space between generations, the space between us in a way I never had before and I didn’t like it one bit,” Cleage said. “When you’re young you don’t worry much about communicating with the older generation … The older generation is presumed to be on the opposite side of most issues.”

Cleage challenged the audience to make a connection where there is a great difference among ages.

“That is our challenge, yours and mine, we have to find a way to bridge that gap. To communicate honestly across all those years between us because our world and our country are in crisis and somebody has got to fix,” Cleage said.

Ladonna Carney, a fourth-year FAMU criminal justice student from Washington D.C., was pleased with the night’s speaker and was moved by her words.  

“One thing that stuck out to me is when she said, ‘It is easy to get satisfied especially if people are telling you they like it.’ I agree with her because it is easy to be complacent when everyone is acknowledging your current state and commending you on what you’ve done,” Carney said.  “It is important to understand that you aren’t in a position to feel entitled. You have to do more and be more. Don’t be complacent in your current state.”

Cleage offered a lot of valuable advice but she stressed the importance of one simple lesson that everyone has heard before.

“Don’t lie, ever.” Cleage said. “There is no wisdom without truth, there is no peace without truth, there is no justice without truth, and there is no love without truth, there is only fear.”

The Artists in Bloom Festival is scheduled to take place from Jan. 29 to April 2. FAMU organizers have variety of free events planned.

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