The New York Times bestselling author is the keynote speaker for the 2021 Black Ink Festival. The festival, which will be virtual, will take place Jan. 14-16 and will feature Mbalia's keynote address, programs, panels and workshops and highlight up to 60 black authors. 

Jan. 16, 2021  

Black Ink Festival Announces Sponsors and Opens Registrations to Black Authors for 2021 Virtual Event
Author Registration Now Available Online at Black Ink Festival Website
Published Nov. 11, 2020

Black Ink: A Charleston African American Book Festival is pleased to announce its sponsors of the 2021 event, which will be focused on amplifying the voices of black authors. The free festival, which will be virtual due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place Jan. 14-16. The following organizations and businesses have committed to helping make next year’s festival a success:

  • Charleston Friends of the Library (Black Ink Primary Host)

  • The Literary Arts Emergency Fund (Black Ink Title Sponsor)

  • Live 5 News (WCSC-TV) (Media Sponsor)

  • Charleston County Public Library (Library Partner)

  • The College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center
    for African American History and Culture (Black Ink Partner)

  • Rotary Club of Charleston (Black Ink Associate)

  • Turning Page Bookshop (Black Ink Supporter)

  • EBSCO (Black Ink Supporter)

  • Arcadia (Black Ink Supporter)

  • Palmetto Surety (Black Ink Supporter)

Thanks to the sponsors above, the festival will host New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia as its keynote speaker. Mbalia is a middle-grade writer who authored novel Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. His sequel Tristan Strong Destroys the World was published in October by Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion. He is a graduate of Howard University and currently resides in North Carolina with his wife and children. Previous keynote speakers of the festival include Nikki Giovanni, Terry McMillan, Kwame Alexander and Marcus Amaker.

In its fifth year, the annual event will feature dozens of African American authors, most from the Lowcountry and surrounding areas. It will also host workshops for authors and programs for readers throughout the two-day virual event, which is free for the public.

Registration for featured authors of the festival is now open. While the event will be virtual, there are still ample opportunities for readers to connect with authors. Registered authors will be hosted on the event’s virtual platform so that attendees can speak to authors, receive exposure on Black Ink’s social media and digital platforms, have the opportunity to network with other authors in online groups and more. Registration is $75 per author and registration closes on Dec. 14, 2020. 

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information on sponsorships, visit the sponsorship page or please contact President of the Charleston Friends of the Library Susan Hoffius at

Black Ink is hosted by the Charleston Friends of the Library in partnership with the Charleston County Public Library.