Dr. Brenda M. Greene
Lynnette Velasco, the beloved writer, journalist, poet and avid supporter of black literature and in particular, children’s literature, was passionate about young people and participated in many literary programs focused on promoting children’s authors and literature.
She is the author of Zinzi: A Child’s Journey to Self-Fulfillment, Giving and Caring, a family values-based children’s book and a contributor to the Essence best-seller Turn the Page and You Don’t Stop! Sharing Successful Chapters in Our Lives with Youth, edited by Patrick M. Oliver. She was also former President of Black Americans in Publishing. Lynnette also served as special assistant to New York City Council member Inez Dickens.
A lover of literature and the literary arts, Lynnette always attended the National Black Writers Conferences (NBWCs) at Medgar Evers College and presented a paper, African-American Children’s Literature—Embracing the Majesty of Nikki Giovanni at the 2012 NBWC. Before serving as special assistant to Councilwoman Dickens, she was a beloved teaching artist at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, and helped to build the center’s Children’s Literature Program.
When we last talked, we discussed her Embracing the Majesty paper on Nikki Giovanni.Lynnette’s description of Ms. Giovanni embodies her dedication to celebrating other writers, her quest to ensure that our children know about Black writers and, indeed, a fair appraisal of herself:
“In the late 1960’s, a young African-American woman…. uncompromising, totally unapologetic, spirited, never doubting reflections of her magnificence, dare I say, the very superiority of blackness, burst onto the literacy landscape, taking no prisoners. She brought thunder. Her bolts blew down doors and smashed thick locks deeply rooted in racism and in large part heralded a reenvisioning of ourselves; strong, black, and proud.
“(Her) writing for children has given credibility, marketability and sustenance to the genre of African-American Children’s Literature.
“Her work serves as a reaffirmation of the history of struggle and triumph, resilience in the face of atrocity, and a living will and salvation for our young people who fall victim to the proliferation of youth-on-youth violence, self-hatred and hopelessness. Indeed, (her) prose of Nikki Giovanni overflowing with black love, defiance and possibility serve as a living will for our young.”
I — and many, many other Black women authors — will miss you Lynnette and remember your laughter, your passion, your loyalty and your commitment to education and the arts, and your service to writers and children.