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Intimate Conversation with Literary Legends
Go On Girl! Book Club
BPM: Share with us the Go On Girl! history and chapter details. Share your founder(s) introduction.
Go On Girl! Book Club was founded in February 1991 by Monique Greenwood, Lynda Johnson and Tracy Mitchell, three co-workers from New York City. The organization grew as members moved to other states and wanted to begin GOG chapters in their new cities. Today, Go On Girl! Book Club is one of the largest national reading organizations in the U.S. for black women with over 300 members in 31 chapters in 13 states including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Washington, D.C. (Photo taken by Ella Curry June, 2009 at Black Bookclubs Rocks Award. GOG won the Literary Legends award.)
Meet Lynda M. Johnson, Co-founder Go On Girl! Book Club
Lynda M. Johnson is co-founder and chair of the largest national reading group for African-American women, the Go On Girl! Book Club. Lynda spear heads the organization and its popular annual traveling Author Awards Weekend taking place in Washington, DC in 2011. In addition she co-authored The Go On Girl! Book Club Guide for Reading Groups by Hyperion with co-founders Tracy Mitchell and Monique Greenwood.
Mrs. Johnson grew up in Syracuse, New York the city that helped nurture her love of literature, fashion and wanderlust. After graduating high school she studied fashion journalism and media studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Fordham University which led her to a career as a fashion journalist where she travels extensively covering fashion here and abroad. She has received numerous awards, including two Atrium Awards for her fashion journalism coverage and an Art Direction Magazine Award for her styling of fashion photo shoots.
Mrs. Johnson is a partner in an online content based website for the children’s industry with Go On Girl! co-founder, Tracy Mitchell called www.kidstylesource.com. She also teaches journalism and advertising and promotions at her alma mater, the Fashion Institute of Technology and works as a freelance fashion journalist/stylist. She lives in Harlem, New York where she is slowly restoring an 1892 townhouse with her husband, musician, Alonzo Wright.
Meet Tracy Mitchell, Co-founder Go On Girl! Book Club
For nearly 20 years, Tracy Mitchell covered the children’s product industry in various editorial roles at Fairchild Publication’s Children’s Business magazine. From 1996 to late 2005 (when Children’s Business closed its doors), Mitchell was at the helm of the monthly magazine.
Under Mitchell’s direction, Children’s Business developed and produced a consumer shopper magazine as a viable supplement, entitled Spree, The Ultimate Guide to Shopping for Kids; negotiated an agreement with Nordstrom to distribute Spree in 90 stores nationwide; introduced two quarterly supplements – Kid Luxe and Tween Business – in response to the lack of public information available on these emerging trends in the kids’ business; and launched a weekly e-mail alert service to provide additional information on fashion and market news to Children’s Business subscribers.
A children’s market expert, Mitchell has been quoted and interviewed by mainstream press, including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, Reuters, Chicago Tribune and CNN, on children’s business topics, ranging from luxury children’s wear and tween style trends to plus-size children’s wear and industry developments. Mitchell straddles the other side of the fence as a major consumer of children’s products as well. Mother to a toddler, a tween and a teen, she is well acquainted with the issues and concerns shopping parents encounter in the aisles and online.
KidStyleSource.com represents Mitchell’s second entrepreneurial endeavor. In 1991 she helped launch what is now the #1 reading club targeting African-American women – The Go On Girl! Book Club (www.goongirl.org). She co-authored The Go On Girl! Book Club Guide for Reading Groups for Hyperion in 1999.
BPM: What is the mission of the Go On Girl! Book Club? What are your group goals?
Key among the Go On Girl! goals is encouraging the continued publication of works by authors of African descent. The reviews to the authors and their publishing houses ensure the club's message is heard: "African-Americans do indeed read, so keep the quality books coming. This is not just a trend!"
The mission of Go On Girl! Book Club is to support the development of literature by authors throughout the African Diaspora. To that end we maintain on-going communication with authors and publishers of each book on our reading list to let them know our praise and and rage for each title. Go On Girl! Book Club's chapters support their respective communities through book drives, reading to the elderly and incarcerated, breast cancer walks, charity fundraisers as well as organizing Jr. Go On Girl! Book Club chapters for young girls.
The following support our mission:
- GOG Literary Magazine - 7th edition will be distributed in 2011
- GOG Website - being redesigned; will feature advertising
- Jr. Go On Girl! - Encouraging good reading habits in young girls
- GOG National Archives - Capturing GOG's history for future generations
- Writing Awards - Two monetary awards given to an amateur scribe and a student at an historically black college
- Annual Author Awards - some past winners include Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lawrence Hill, Tananarive Due, Lawrence Hill, J. California Cooper, Sonia Sanchez and many others.
BPM: What legacy do you think Go On Girl! Book Club will leave for those watching in the community?
We believe that Go On Girl! Book Club's legacy will be the support and guidance that we provide to black authors and publishers and the inspiration that our longevity and size gives to other bookclubs. In 2009, Go On Girl! Book Club won the Literary Legend award from the Black Book Club Rocks Foundation for 18 years as a national reading organization for black women. In 2011, Go On Girl! Book Club will host its 20th anniversary celebration at its 19th annual author awards event. The festivities will take place from May 20 - 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott at Metro Center. All authors, bookclubs, publishers, bloggers, journalists who love black literature are invited to attend, For more information visit www.goongirl.org.
BPM: What types of monthly activities do you enjoy as a group? Do you travel?
Go On Girl! Book Club hosts an annual author awards event in a different city. In 2009 we travelled to Houston, Texas and in 2010 we were in Birmingham, Alabama. Each awards event features the winners of our Author of the Year and Best New Author Awards as well as Life Achievement, and Unpublished Writer and Scholarship Award winners. We are also joined by local authors. Some of GOG's winning authors include Lawrence Hill (Someone Knows My Name), Jennifer Baszile (The Black Girl Next Door), Sonia Sanchez (Morning Haiku), J. California Cooper (Life is Short But Wide), Stephen Carter (The Emperor of Ocean Park), Jewell Parker Rhodes (Douglass' Women) and many others. For our 20 year gala in 2011, 11 awards will be given to authors representing each genre reflected on our reading list in addition to the Author of the Year, Best New Author and writing award winners.
BPM: What adventures did GOG have in 2010? What will GOG do for the 20th anniversary in 2011?
2010 has been a tremendous year for Go On Girl! Book Club. We celebrated our 18th Annual Author Awards event in Birmingham, Alabama with authors Lawrence Hill 2009 Author of the Year (Someone Knows My Name), Jennifer Baszile 2009 Best New Author (The Black Girl Next Door) and Sonia Sanchez 2009 Life Achievement Award Winner (Morning Haiku). Special Guest authors included Vanessa Davis Griggs, Patricia Haley, Chaundra Sparks Taylor, Tina Kay and A. Faye Boykin.
In 2011, Go On Girl! Book Club will celebrate 20 years as an organization at our 19th Annual Author Awards gala. The festivities will take place from May 20-22nd in Washington, DC at the Marriott at Metro Center. We are looking for a tremendous turnout! Every author on our reading list will be invited to attend along with publishing professionals, bookclubs, bloggers, journalists - anyone who supports black literature. In addition to our 2010 Author of the Year and Best New Author, we will give 11 awards in each of the genres that Go On Girl! Book Club reads throughout the year.BPM: What is your favorite genre of books? What are the key factors that make a book remain on your mind long after you read the last page?
Go On Girl! Book Club reads a book from a different genre each month so that our members are exposed to a broader view of literature. The genres are: anthology, autobiography/biography, classic, historical fiction, international, mystery/suspense, new author, science fiction/fantasy, short story, novel/popular fiction and social commentary
BPM: How do you feel about electronic books such as downloads for Kindle or iPad, etc?
Go On Girl! Book Club supports new technology as long as the works of all black authors are readily available on these devices.
BPM: How may we find out more about Go On Girl! Book Club?
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