Two of Wilberforce University’s students were selected to spend six weeks this summer as  James Baldwin Writer’s Colony fellows. With excursions to Amsterdam, Paris, and France both students had the opportunity to explore lectures and discussion sessions that featured significant periods in African-American literature that affected, and were influenced by developments in Europe, including the Harlem Renaissance (1920s), the Postwar Era (late 1940s), and the Black Arts Movement (1960s).

“This summer, two Wilberforce University students, Matthew Vaughn Burress and Shanyael Hinton, participated in the Inaugural James Baldwin Writers Colony in the Netherlands. The program, sponsored by Emerson College, allowed these students to focus on their writing aspirations while studying with fellow students in an international setting. These opportunities are invaluable to providing our students with a rich and varied academic experience and we are proud of Matthew and Shanyael for representing Wilberforce well and their fearlessness in stepping beyond their backyard”. – President Elfred Anthony Pinkard

Matthew Vaughn Burress, a rising sophomore and Columbus, Ohio native, is a Sociology major with a focus set towards education. He is a member and treasurer of CLEF Society of Distinguished Artists on Wilberforce University’s campus as well as poetry collective Illmatic Expression based on Central State’s campus. Outside of loving life as it comes, Matthew enjoys “breathing” through poetry and music. Since being a part of the James Baldwin Writer’s Colony, he intends to shift his style by writing more prose and possibly novels.

“It’s difficult to put into words how much this study abroad opportunity has changed my mentality. I see my purpose clearer, my writing has expanded, and my awareness of self, and how that reflects into my writing, has been a pleasure to explore. I am humbled, hungrier, and blessed beyond measure. I’m thankful.” – Matthew Burress

Shanyael Hinton is a senior, from Columbus, Ohio, at Wilberforce University majoring in Mass Media Communications. She aspires to work behind the scenes in a newsroom, but since encountering Europe and being an inaugural James Baldwin Writer’s Colony Fellow, she has reconsidered her career choice to hopefully involve writing.  

“During the trip, I actually examined myself a lot because I continually second-guessed myself about if I was really the right person to be on such a journey; Europe demanded that I take up space which I suppose is something I have always avoided. It’s something I believe I have started to conquer.” – Shanyael Hinton

About the James Baldwin Writer’s Colony

This program invites students to write, workshop and revise short works of creative fiction and nonfiction inspired by the literature of African-Americans who lived and work in Europe. Through workshops, seminar discussions and dedicated writing time, students will develop their craft while writing responsively to the African-American literary tradition and their own experience in a European setting.

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