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Carrying the Torch
Carrying the Torch

Thu, Jun 20


Texas Capitol

Carrying the Torch

The 2nd Annual Juneteenth Remembrance and Reading for the Future

Time & Location

Jun 20, 2024, 7:00 PM CDT

Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701, USA

About the event

Join Torch Literary Arts for the 2nd Annual Carrying the Torch: A Reading and Remembrance for the Future. This special event acknowledges the historical significance of Juneteenth and celebrates the accomplishments of the African American community. Poets, writers, and guest speakers will share original work to acknowledge the federal holiday and celebrate the future of African Americans in Texas.

Cost: Free - Please click here to RSVP on Eventbrite 

Note: This event takes place at 2 locations

7 pm - Texas African American History Memorial at the Texas Capitol (speeches & readings

8 pm - African American Cultural and Historical Facility (readings, dancing, and food

Music by DJ Aquaman Chill 

Food Mashae's Catering

Photography by Larry Choyce 

Questions? Email 

Diamond Braxton (she/they) is a queer, mixed-race Black-Xicanx writer, editor, and educator based in Texas. Their work appears in Best Microfiction 2023, Sundress Publications Best of the Net anthology, The Forge, Foglifter, Stanchion, Hellebore Press, ANMLY, and others. She is a 2023 Lambda Literary Retreat Fellow and a 2021 Tin House Fellow and will be attending Tin House again in 2024. She is the Founder of Abode Press, a new 501(c)3 anti-racist, intersectional publishing press dedicated to uplifting underrepresented voices. They are currently working on their first collection of short stories.

Jasmine Games (she/her) is a Black and queer spoken word poet and theater practitioner from Houston, TX. She holds a BA in English and Performance Studies from Texas A&M University (2018) and an MFA in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities from The University of Texas at Austin (2022). Games is an award-winning poet and practitioner, including the 2021 Sexton Prize for Poetry from the Black Spring Press Group and the 2021 Winifred Ward Scholarship for excellence in youth drama/theatre from the American Alliance for Theatre Education. Working in education and social justice in Austin, TX, she utilizes drama, creative writing, and devised performance to address social (in)justices with participants of all ages. Learn more about Jasmine at and follow her on social media @jasminegamespoetry.

Florinda Bryant is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, activist, and educator – a Texas gurl who calls Austin home. As a performer and director, she has worked with Salvage Vanguard Theater, the Rude Mechs, the Vortex, Paper Chairs, Theater en Bloc, and Teatro Vivo in Austin, TX, and the Ensemble Theater in Houston, Texas. Having trained for over 20 years in performance Jazz Aesthetics, Florinda has worked extensively with Sharon Bridgeforth, most recently performing the Blues in "dat Black Mermaid Man Lady" at Pilsbury House in Minneapolis, MN. Some of her favorite more recent performances include "Pork Chop Wars" written and directed by Laurie Carlos in Austin (Performing Blackness Series) and Minneapolis (Pangea World Theater), the regional premiere of "Until the Flood" by Dael Orlandersmith, and "Your Healing is Killing Me" by Virginia Grise (Playmakers in NC and Cara Mia Theater in Dallas Texas). As a writer, Florinda engages audiences in explorations around identity, body, and community. Her award-winning one-woman show "Half Breed Southern Fried”, produced as part of the Performing Blackness Series at the University of Texas, was directed by Laurie Carlos. In Fall 2019 Ms. Bryant was named the inaugural "Omi Osun Joni L. Jones Visiting Performing Artist" for the African & African Diaspora Studies Department at UT Austin. Most recently, the regional premiere of her one-woman show "Black do Crack" at Ground Floor Theater in Austin, Texas was nominated for five B. Iden Payne Awards including Outstanding Production of a Drama, Original Script, Direction of a Drama, Dramaturgy, and Lead Actress in a Drama, which she won. Florinda has worked with at-risk communities, young men and women, and adults – using performance as a social justice tool for empowerment and change for over 18 years. 

Amanda Johnston is a writer, visual artist, and the 2024 Texas Poet Laureate. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, The Moth, Academy of American Poets, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, Tasajillo, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Watermill Center, American Short Fiction, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. She is a former Board President of Cave Canem Foundation, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and the founder/executive director of Torch Literary Arts.

Amanda Moore is from Temple, Texas, and has resided in Austin for over 20 years. She is a writer, attorney, and book reviewer. She attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish. She received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Amanda has worked as the General Counsel and Director of Legal Services at the Texas State Teachers Association where she has represented employees at Texas public schools, colleges, and universities.

In 2015, Amanda’s short story, "The Corner Man," received the highest award in a statewide short story competition sponsored by the Texas Bar Journal. Her short story, "Reflections," was published by Akashic Books (Austin Noir) in 2023. Amanda has reviewed books for Publishers Weekly and is a contributor to Diverse Voices Book Review where she has interviewed fiction and nonfiction authors. Amanda has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Texas Book Festival.

Dewi Smith is a survivor who is finding her voice in all aspects of her life and asserting the necessity of all who have played small or been made small to do the same. She is a proud member of the SAFE Alliance board of directors and Vice Chair of historic East Austin's Austin Rosewood Community Development Corporation board, which partners in charting a path for The Millennium as a historically significant site. Her thought leadership on new approaches to community engagement draws from her ten-year career in research on chronic disparities in the academic achievement of Black and poor students. Corporate experience from twelve years in tech operations drives her push for ongoing accountability, process, and transparency. She is serving her second appointment to the African American Resource Advisory Commission and leads strategic plan development to increase goal and process transparency, ultimately for more meaningful community impact. Smith is the quintessential big sister and auntie and a joyfully active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats. 

This event is made possible with support from the Austin Cultural Arts Division, the Burdine Johnson Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Capitol Grounds, and the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility. Special thanks to Rep. James Talarico for sponsoring this event at the Capitol. 

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