Press Release: Author Renée Watson Plans to Transform Langston Hughes's Harlem Brownstone

NEW YORK—(July 27, 2016) Harlem-based author and educator Renée Watson announces the launch of the nonprofit organization, I, Too, Arts Collective, with the goal of creating a space for emerging and established authors to gather, create, and showcase their work. The organization’s first project is to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Langston Hughes by leasing the Harlem brownstone where he lived and created during the last twenty years of his life. Currently empty, Watson envisions the brownstone as a space for artists, poets, and creators to come together, mentor one another, and build upon the rich cultural legacy left by Hughes.

“I've walked past the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived many times and wondered why it was empty,” explains Watson. “How could it be that his home wasn't preserved as a space for poets, a space to honor his legacy? I'd pass the brownstone, shake my head, and say, ‘Someone should do something.’ I have stopped saying, ‘Someone should do something’ and I've gathered a group of writers and artists and we are trying to do something.”

“I believe it is important that in a place like Harlem, the historical and cultural spaces where African American pioneers lived and created be preserved,” she adds. “This is not just for nostalgic reasons, but I see a need for young people to know about and understand the legacy they are a part of; the artists and activists who paved the way for them.”

I, Too, Arts Collective is currently seeking donors to help raise funds for their first year of expenses, including renovations to the brownstone and leasing costs. They have until the end of next month to gather the funds, and they’ve established a website where supporters can help them reach their goal:

In addition to her role as an activist and educator in her community, Watson has published several highly acclaimed books. This Side of Home, her first young adult novel, was named a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and received starred reviews from Booklist and BCCB. Her second young adult novel, Piecing Me Together, will be published by Bloomsbury on February 14, 2017. It’s a timely and powerful story about a teen girl named Jade, who’s striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her.

To find out more about Renée’s work and to support the I, Too, Arts Collective, visit her website or email her at

About Renée Watson:
Renée Watson is the author of the teen novels, This Side of Home and Piecing Me Together, and two acclaimed picture books: Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City. Visit her at or on Twitter at @reneewauthor.

About the I, Too, Arts Collective:
The I, Too, Arts Collective is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. Their first major project is to provide a space for emerging and established artists in Harlem to create, connect, and showcase their work. For more information, visit


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