From Amy Wang of The Oregonian/OregonLive, June 3, 2022:
For Nanea Woods, books and community have always gone together, and now she’s launching her biggest effort yet to combine the two.
Portland’s first Black literary festival, the Freadom Festival, is a tribute to freedom and reading that’s taking place in Portland’s Peninsula Park on Saturday, June 18.
Woods deliberately timed the Freadom Festival to the weekend of Juneteenth, a celebration of emancipation from slavery.
“How we obtained our freedom has a lot to do with reading and literacy,” she says, noting that reading and writing were crucial tools and weapons in ending the enslavement of Black people.
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Woods is also striving for a picnic atmosphere, with DJs spinning music and several Black-owned food carts selling ice cream, plant-based dishes, soul food and juices. “I’m encouraging people to come out, bring a book, bring a blanket, read, enjoy community and fellowship with other book lovers,” she says.
Her personal community includes Michelle Lewis, a family friend who with her husband, Charles Hannah, owns Third Eye Books in Southeast Portland. Third Eye Books, Portland’s only Black bookstore, is the official bookstore for Woods’ Prose Before Bros book club, providing a discount to club members, and now that partnership has extended to the Freadom Festival.
Third Eye Books is donating books to the festival and will have books for sale as well. Even though Lewis and Hannah already have a busy day on June 18 — they’ll be celebrating their one-year anniversary at their 33rd Avenue and Division Street location — Lewis plans to attend the festival to support “a wonderful idea.”
“Books bring people together,” Lewis says between sales on a recent afternoon. “It’s powerful, even in here, how conversations can be created, be had around a book that people are reading, what they get out of it. So we’re happy to be a part of that process.”