Ukali interviews Charles Chatmon of LABBX.
Author: Johnson-Redd, Larry Ukali
Pub Date: 11/01/2010
Publication: Name: Journal of Pan African Studies Publisher: Journal of Pan African Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Journal of Pan African Studies ISSN: 0888-6601
Issue: Date: Nov, 2010 Source Volume: 4 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 306754373
Full Text: An interview of Charles Chatmon about the August 21, 2010 Los Angeles Black Book Expo conducted by JPAS guest editor Larry Ukali Johnson-Redd. Charles Chatmon is the executive director of the Los Angeles Black Book Expo (P.O. Box 533133, Los Angeles, California 90053; 323-718-5678).

Hello Charles Chatmon. Please describe this year's Los Angeles Black Book Expo that occurred in August 2010, and the origin of LABBX?

This year's L.A. Black Book Expo was held inside the Sheraton Gateway LAX Hotel, which we had a wide range of authors from New York to Los Angeles. We had panel discussions, workshops, a spoken word feature and a children's area just as we've always had it for the expo. We also added an Authors Competition and other contests as well.

In the beginning, we've held the LABBX inside the Expo Center (as it's called now) at Exposition Park. I've been the executive director for four years, but for the first two of our six year history, Dr. Itibari Zulu who is also the founder of the expo, was its original executive director. Our focus is serving the community by providing a quality book event for authors and exhibitors and for the general public.

How far was it from the neighborhood or as some say the hood?

The Sheraton is located near the airport. Mind you, it took us out of the community, but we were focused on providing more events that took place within such as a writer's workshop and spelling bee. Because we had 'outgrown' the Expo Center, it was my decision to find a suitable place for LABBX. The hotel had reached out to us, so I had to see what they have to offer. I can say they provided the best atmosphere for us and a lot of the authors enjoyed the experience.

What were the outstanding features of LABBX 2010, and who were some of the old and new authors?

Michael Colyar, the former host of BET's Live in L.A. joined us this year, and he enjoyed the event, which we're glad he did.

The Authors Competition generated a lot of interest as well as our move to the Sheraton itself. I think that was the reason why we attracted over sixty exhibitors this year. We had veteran writers such as Lutishia Lovely, Kwan, Vicki Ward, Maxine Thompson, new authors such as Jacqueline Luckett, Donnette Black, Pacific Raven Press from Hawaii, even actress Cherie Johnson of Punky Brewster, Family Matters) has a book and LABBX was her first event! If anyone is interested, we have a complete exhibitors list of who attended (with video) on our blog at

We also had the Sunset and Gumbo show on Urban Soul Radio 102.5 FM come out and interview authors, which was fun.

How far did authors come from, and how many?

From New York to Hawaii, and every year it seems as if we attract authors from the East coast which is a blessing to us. By far, this was the largest L.A. Black Book Expo on record with over sixty authors! Our team did a great job in getting the word out there.

Who sold the most books or generated the most vivid response from the audience?

I've heard from numerous authors that their books sold, so it's hard to tell if children's books sold any better than non-fiction or fiction, but as long as sales were made, it doesn't matter to me.

What will be different next year in 2011?

Good question. The LABBX Executive Circle hasn't held our meeting yet, so I don't want to take away any great plans one of the committee members might have but I will say we'll continue to make our event better. We'll look at everything from the site to promotions and bigger name authors. Everything will be put in consideration and sometime in 2011, we'll have a brand new website along with an improvement on what we needed to work on and continuing what we're doing right so far. I promise you that.

Will you invite the President Barack Obama, Drake or Danny Glover or Kobe Bryant in 2011 or all of the above?

Chances are they'll have a lot on their hands next year, but you never know! :)

What are you latest moves and projects as a poet?

I have finished my third book which will have my poetry and short stories this time and the working title I'm thinking I'll choose is Storm Over South Central, based on one of my short stories in the book. I'm also working on a book with two novellas which is different from the genres published now, and I hope I will provide some fun for the public out there. I don't want to say much now, but I'll have more word on that and my first novel that I'm also working on at this time.

Thank you very much Charles Chatmon for this interview!

Thank you.

Larry Ukali Johnson-Redd ( has a B.A. in Political Science and Ethnic Studies (University of San Francisco), a M.P.A. (Golden Gate University), an administrative credential, and a M.A. in Educational Administration (San Francisco State University). He is also the author of The Black Expatriate in Africa (1982), Journey to the Motherland: From San Francisco to Benin City (2002), History to Destiny Through Afrocentric Poetry (2003), Loving Black Women (2006), and Long Distance Love (2010), an autobiographical love story about a struggling writer-school administrator who travels to Nigeria after a 24 year absence.

In the context of Long Distance Love this poet, writer and school administrator sits in his principal or site leader's office and dreams about returning to Nigeria and writing a new novel. A good Nigerian friend then decides to introduce him to his niece in Lagos, Nigeria. The relationship blossoms online, through the telephones and through letters. Ukali travels to Nigeria for the first time in 24 years to meet his lovely fiance to be. While he waits and goes through the finance visa process, he writes some of the most beautiful poetry ever written while professing his love to Ese. Ese is younger than Ukali. Eventually a visa is given after 4 years and his young fiance arrives, only to get cold feet and returns to Nigeria.

While in Nigeria Ukali flies to his beloved Benin City and upcountry to a village called Ubiaja in Edo State in Nigeria, 80 miles up country where he runs into twin politician friends whom he had not seen for 24 years. What a friend's reunion! How do you think this story ends? One will need to read to the conclusion to see how this autobiographical love story of an African-American and a Nigerian unfolds. The book and other resources by the author can be accessed at: athrdpsr1?encoding=UTF8& search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Larry%20Ukali%20Johnson-Redd page/videos/index. html?profile id=39945499&profile name= Ukal2003&user id=39945499&username=Ukal2003
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