by Tracie Isaac –
The Rochester Genesee Valley Club of the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. hosted their 5th Annual Black Women’s Book Festival on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Phillis Wheatley Community Library located at 333 Dr. Samuel McCree Way.
Out of the numerous requests to participate, 24 black women authors, poets and spoken word artists were selected to present their literary works under the theme “Our Narratives – Tellin’ It Like It Is! This year’s event featured author, International Literary Artist, The Honorable C. Neletha Butterfield, M.B.E., J.P., who traveled from Bermuda to present at the book festival.
Butterfield is the owner, founder and director of an alternative learning center and a computer school called C.A.R.E., which stands for Children and Adults Reaching for Education. She founded the learning center and computer school in November of 1983. Butterfield is also the author of five books, “Speeches for the Soul”, “Workshops for the Soul”, “Political Benning’s for the Soul”, “The Soul of a Community Leader” and “17 Trailblazers Who Walked With Purpose”.
A diverse range of women authors, from a teen mother to elders near 80, shared works that included children’s books, non-fiction, fiction, sermons, speeches and historical compilations on other black women and their contributions. The family friendly event encouraged parents to bring their children to hear age appropriate stories, learn to write stories and make their own books, while adults perused the various author exhibits, purchased books and obtained information on how to publish independently or traditionally.
Local author Leslie C. Youngblood and Butterfield visited WXIR 100.9FM radio station to share some insights on a special broadcast with station manager and host Rashida Washington. Both women had unique stories of their journey to become authors. “I was told by a teacher that I had no talent for writing. After reading Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin, I was inspired to become a writer,” stated Leslie Youngblood. “The style in which Bladwin wrote helped me to understand how to write in my own voice and put my thoughts and ideas into a story,” she said.
Butterfield shared, “I have served in communities of Bermuda and was a member of Parliament compiling a range of inspiring experiences. My desire was to share my life, the experiences that I had with others and to leave a legacy for my children.” Butterfield understandS the importance of a sound education. She is a computer education consultant, a former Computer Lecturer for the Government Community School, and a former lecturer at the Bermuda College in computers, English and mathematics. As the founder of the G.E.D. Programme in the correctional facilities and a former instructor of the G.E.D., mathematics and reading with the Bermuda Correctional Facilities education department she has advocated for many to obtain education.
Butterfield is the President of the Bermuda Business and Professional Women’s Club, the co-founder of Prison Fellowship Bermuda and a founding member of S.T.A.R. (Supportive Therapy for AIDS Victims and their Relatives), Past Vice President of the Orchid Charity Club and a steward at St. Paul A.M.E. Church. She sat I the House of Parliament as a Government “back bencher” from November 1998 to October 2002 and held multiple government appointments as Bermuda’s representative and has received numerous awards and honors. Now retired after 20 years from the political arena she spends some of her time in Jamaica where she finds peace and solace writing her memoirs.
This was the first visit to Rochester by Butterfield, who said she was intrigued by the history of the city and the legacy of Frederick Douglass. While visiting with City Council President Loretta C. Scott, the two shared insights on seeing the number of women of color serving in politics at this time in history. As a token of appreciation for the visit at City Hall, the Hon. Butterfield presented a copy of her book Speeches for the Soul to President Scott. In turn President Scott presented Hon. Butterfield with two books, Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad and Beyond These Gates – African Americans interred in Mt. Hope Cemetery. “I am overjoyed by the books on Frederick Douglass and local African Americans of Rochester. My hope was to learn more about Frederick Douglass and Rochester’s history,” said Butterfield.
To wind up the weekend activities, on Saturday evening, Rochester Genesee Valley Club members, fellow authors Bishop Eulah M. Nelson and The Hon. Butterfield, along with other book fair participants attended the gospel concert featuring Bishop Cortez Vaughn, Brian Courtney Wilson and Fred Hammond, where they heard their favorite gospel artists in an electrifying night of praise and worship and met Pastor Bernard McNeill and Co-Pastor Tina McNeill of New Life Fellowship.
For more information on how to participate or attending the next Annual Black Women’s Book Festival email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (585)326-0752.