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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Inaugural Orange Mound book fest opens ‘a whole new world’ for children

Candace Tate remembers when she discovered the wonderful adventures that can be found in books.

“I fell in love with reading as I explored all the incredible things you can experience in books,” said Tate. “I grew up … in Orange Mound, where our teachers were completely invested in our education…”

On May 6, that exploration was given a communitywide boost by way of the “Historic First Orange Mound Children’s Book Festival” at the Orange Mound Community Center.

Tate wanted the festival to re-enforce what reading taught her ⸺ value of learning, the ability to communicate, speaking well, reading, and her love for children’s books.

As the confab opened, it was lost on no one all that the event means to Orange Mound, said Tate.

“Ekpe’s drumming opened up the festival,” said Tate. “Not only was his book, ‘Don’t Touch A Gun” being offered, but his gifts as a musical artist were also on display.

“A book festival for children happens in communities in Collierville and Bartlett. But never does anything like that come to Orange Mound. I wanted to change that.

“It’s my way of giving back to a community who gave so much to me.”

After graduating from Melrose High School, Tate went to Los Angeles because she wanted to attend UCLA. But as it happened, Tate’s college freshman year was spent at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

“Like so many freshmen, I had to come back home because I was doing a little too much partying,” Tate said, laughing as she remembered her freshman year. My parents sent me to LeMoyne-Owen College. LeMoyne-Owen sent me to Africa, where I saw the art of storytelling as both entertainment and a way of passing along oral history. We want to create a world of great, young communicators.”

Reading is fundamental and starting early is essential. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Featured were authors and artists in Memphis. Many people were surprised that Tate used all local authors.

“We have such a wealth of writing talent and creative energy,” said Tate. There was no need for us to add any more authors. The great authors and artists here in Memphis offered so many featured works. I wish more people had been able to see what the book festival was all about. Everything was great.”

Tate’s communication skills have taken her around the world. She has experienced different cultures, which were not so strange to her because of the books she read.

A sojourn to Africa’s Ghana inspired Tate’s entrenchment into the mysteries and riches of the continent’s Gold Coast.

She witnessed the orator and storytelling of a griot pronounced (gree-oh), who recounted the history of his village, stating the name of every person born and native to that village since the birth of the village.

“He never paused throughout the entire village history,” said Tate. “That whole experience was life-changing for me. It was here that I discovered the true power of storytelling and the spoken word…”

As an English major, Tate has used her degree in the corporate environment for more than 40 years in several professional writing roles, including senior technical writer, senior proposal writer, and human resources manager.

She has traveled around the world as a corporate instructor and has worked on such high-profile projects as the rollout of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obama Care” for consumers and small businesses in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.

Now, relocated back to Memphis, Tate recently launched a new nonprofit organization, “Artsy Letters,” to rekindle her passion for all things literacy.



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