Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Umoja Soul Northwest Arkansas Writers Group- Representing the African American Writing Community

By Terri Walker

"If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it."   Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's quote may seem easier said than done, but it's not impossible! And there are many who not only feel the same way, but have put in the time and dedication to do just that. I'm impressed with the group of writers who make up a local writing group, Umoja Soul; not only are they successful published authors, but they focus on additional goals that support literacy, connect community, and affirm the African American culture. Read on to learn more about this group.

From left: Ms. Jones, Michael Lafears, Jr., and Rhonda Holmes at the Fayetteville Public Library's Umoja Soul NWA Author Event (8/18/12).

The Umoja Soul Northwest Arkansas Writers Group encourages unity, participation, and outreach throughout the African American NWA writing community. These published authors, poets, and writers have joined together to promote literacy in young people, consult with new authors, host book discussions throughout the community (local libraries and bookstores), and deliver speaking presentations in schools and community organizations. By empowering minority writers in NWA and promoting diverse voices and ideas, Umoja Soul seeks to strengthen and enrich the literary voice of NWA through their message of unity, inclusion, and literacy.

Umoja Soul was founded in June of 2012 by Leora Jones. (Her real name is Leora Jackson, but for performances or stage productions, she uses the name F.L. Jones)  At the time, she was trying to locally promote her book and was curious about what other local African American authors had done for promotion. Starting a search, she didn’t find much diversity in book clubs at the local libraries or within the community. She was referred to local published authors Michael Lafears, Jr. and Rhonda Holmes. The two of them agreed to join Ms. Jones and become the first members of Umoja Soul NWA Writers Group.
*The word umoja is Swahili for "unity."


Ms. Jones
Ms. Jones has published a poetry book entitled Candy Apple: A Diverse Collection of Poems. Romantic love, inspiration, black history, and deep spirituality are all displayed throughout the book. These poems will allow you to look deeper into the situations of life told through the eyes of a poet who has an excellent gift of perception. She enjoys writing articles about children's issues, disability issues, spirituality, romantic love, teenage problems, and current events. Her second book of poems, Cotton Candy: Sweet Poems for the Entire Soul, is available for purchase on amazon.com.

Mrs. Rhonda Holmes

Rhonda Holmes and her husband, Tracy Holmes

Mrs. Holmes is an inspirational writer and speaker. Her first book, The WORD Diet, is filled with affirmations and prayers that she refers to as tools that guide readers in turning struggles into victories by using their own words. The Word Diet is a winner of the Self Published Author - Christian Book Award and is endorsed by Kathy Ireland and the late E. Lynn Harris, among others.

Other publications in which her writing has been included are: African American Perspectives Magazine, Remembrances in Black: Personal Perspectives of the African American Experience at the University of Arkansas, and Reclaimed Inheritance Newsletter.

Purchase the new version of "The WORD Diet" at www.createspace.com/3943328 

Read More About "The WORD Diet" at:

Michael Lafears, Jr.
Author Michael Lafears, Jr, is originally from Alexandria, LA and currently lives in Bentonville, where he has resided for the past 6 years. His first book is Words From a Speaking Soul - Life's Unheard Cries. His poems are inspired by relationships, religion, love, loss, and politics. As a self-published African-American author, he hopes to inspire his readers and provide a positive spin on negative subject matters. In his book, Michael tells the story of life from various perspectives in order for the reader to truly hear the cries often unheard within the soul of a man.

His second book was recently released; an ebook entitled No Fears Fitness…Mind, Body, Spirit, which was written to inspire readers to live a better lifestyle by combining biblical principles and basic health facts.  Michael’s books can be ordered at amazon.com or authorhouse.com. 


For more information, you may contact the Umoja Soul NWA Writers Group at umojasoulnwa@yahoo.com.

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