Dr. Ray Winbush

NASHVILLE, TN — The 14th annual Les Gemmes Literary Luncheon goes virtual and goes to Hollywood on May 22 this year. The event, which features local and national authors, is the nonprofit group’s major fundraiser for its premier mentoring program for teenaged girls. The luncheon will be Saturday, May 22, at 11 a.m. CDT.  Tickets for $25 may be purchased on Eventbrite at 14thannuallesgemmesliteraryluncheon.eventbrite.com.

The keynote speaker,  Dr. Ray Winbush,  served as the researcher for the 2021 Oscar-winning movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah.”  The film won two Academy Awards and was nominated in six categories.  Dr. Winbush is known as a social justice expert, who also served as the director of the Fisk Social Justice Race Relations Institute. His work at Morgan State University, located in Baltimore, Maryland, includes being a research professor and the Director of the Institute for Urban Research. He is a highly respected and sought-after speaker and presenter on cultural issues, especially reparations and social justice in the streets, board rooms, educational arena, and corporations. His latest book, Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations For The Transatlantic Slave Trade, is considered a “prequel” to Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations.

The Literary Luncheon is the signature fundraiser for scholarships and programs for “Lighting the Path for Girls, called “Jewels.”  These teens, aged 13 to 18 are paired with a mentor who stays with them throughout their time in the program. Jewels participate in workshops, tours, and other activities.  The funds also provide financial support for their college matriculation.

Co-chairs of this year’s event are Dr. Jewell Winn, executive director of International Affairs and Director of Diversity Programs at Tennessee State University and co-owner with her husband Tim, of Lighthouse on the Lake in Hendersonville, and Rev. Sondrea Tolbert, assistant pastor at Fairfield M. B. Church in Goodlettsville. and Judicial Law Clerk, Metropolitan State Courts.  

Last year’s luncheon was one of the major events in Nashville before COVID-19 shut down the entire world.  The event always focuses on significant authors and influential individuals participating in and attending the event.  Held on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, the celebrated luncheon took place at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville, with a standing-room-only audience, It featured an impressive group of presenting authors, as well as vendor authors including Dr. Shawn Joseph, former Director of Schools for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. 

This year’s event will be set in various locations.  It features a Hollywood screenwriter, a movie researcher, and social justice expert, and a retired elected official who focuses on inspiration.

With the spotlight on the theme, “Conversations of the Culture: Truthtelling and Untold Stories,” the audience will be wowed with the energy and insight of the Mistress of Ceremony, Angelia Marie Hutchinson, live from Hollywood.  She is an entrepreneur, movie producer, screenwriter, casting agent, and author.  She has penned several books, her latest, “Create your Own Yes When You Keep Hearing No.” She continues to break barriers in the film industry, among the Hollywood powerful, she is referred to as “The Dream Builder.”

The opening address will be presented by Dr. Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, a retired educator in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School system, and a retired elected official.  She was the first African American female to win a county-wide seat as Council Lady -at-Large.  Her books on inspiration will soothe your soul.  Her latest is, More Inspirational Readings…Spiritual Warfare: Breaking the FAADS (Fear, Anger, Anxiety, Depression Syndrome).

“Our co-chairs, have put in place a stella Hollywood attraction that resonates with everyone, everywhere.  Our Mistress of Ceremony and speakers will tell the untold stories of our culture and these times, said Dr. Phyllis Qualls, president of the Nashville Chapter of Les Gemmes. Awards will also be presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to this city and our society.

Dr. Ray Winbush, an undisputed scholar on race relations explained his work on the film, Judas and the Black Messiah, which started decades ago. The producer, Charles King, was a student of Dr. Winbush, when he taught at Vanderbilt, before joining Fisk University.  King, in his early 20s, told Dr. Winbush then he wanted to go to Hollywood and make positive movies about Black people.  He did just that.

Professor Winbush said, “That was 30 years ago, and here we are now, making movies together and winning Oscars!”  The powerful movie made a bold statement for Hollywood and the nation. “It is an honor to have Dr. Winbush as our keynote speaker.  He will share how social justice can be justly portrayed in modern-day movies,” said Qualls.

For the Author Showcase, to promote your book, please contact Rene’ Whittaker at 615.838.6164 or email her at mrenew@att.net.