Eighty years ago, 39 women writers from seven states gathered in Chicago to form an organization that would provide a voice for women professional writers nationwide.
This week, for the first time, the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW) is bringing its annual conference to Alabama – and some heavyweight writers from the state are joining them to celebrate eight decades of the organization’s efforts to support and advocate on behalf of women writing professionals.
The conference kicks off tomorrow at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Birmingham and runs through Saturday. The event is hosted by Alabama Media Professionals, NFPW’s local affiliate.
Fittingly, this year’s conference theme is “Stars Fell on Alabama” a reference to the jazz standard inspired by a real meteor shower that lit up Alabama skies in 1833, said Elaine Miller, conference co-director.
“Alabama Media Professionals expects another shower of stars to descend on our state during the conference – media stars and members of the National Federation of Press Women,” Miller said.
Among the Alabama writing stars participating in the conference are Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Bragg and Helen Shores Lee, a retired Jefferson County circuit judge and co-author with sister Barbara Sylvia Shores of a book recounting the life and struggles of their late father, noted Birmingham civil rights lawyer and activist Arthur Shores. Workshop presenters include Birmingham blogger Javacia Harris Bowser, broadcasters Ryan Fowler and Donna Francavilla and travel writer Annette Thompson.
Former Birmingham Police Captain-turned-writer T.K. Thorne and veteran Alabama journalist Tom Gordon will join Lee on a panel to reflect on covering racially charged events, while Nashville novelist Stuart Englert, Birmingham-based journalists Carolanne Griffith Roberts and Virginia Martin, political commentator Natalie Davis and grant writer Herb Patterson will offer professional tips in their respective fields.
Conference sponsors include the Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Power, the Alabama Press Association, the Alabama Broadcasters Association, Partners By Design and the Public Relations Society of America, Alabama chapter.
Founded in 1937 for women newspaper reporters, NFPW now counts many men in the organization. Members hail from almost every state and include journalists, editors, book authors, broadcasters, mass communications professors, high school journalism teachers and public relations professionals.