Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith is a featured speaker at the 2009 Charlotte Literary Festival.
Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith is a featured speaker at the 2009 Charlotte Literary Festival.

CHARLOTTE — After a two year stint in Uptown, organizers of the Charlotte Literary Festival say it is time to take the event back to its roots. This year, the festival heads home to its native NoDa arts district.

Featured speakers at this year’s event, Sept. 5-6, include Dr. and Mrs. Michael Bernard Beckwith and motivational speaker Chris Gardner, whose story inspired Will Smith’s film “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The event will also feature live music and entertainment on the main stage both days of the festival, book signings, an Author’s Lane with local and self-published authors, vendors, public discussions, workships and activities for children and teens.

“Having the 2009 Charlotte Literary Festival in NoDa is fitting; after all NoDa is celebrated for its dedication to supporting the arts in its myriad forms, for embracing change and for encouraging cultural diversity and awareness — all ideals that the Charlotte Literary Festival holds dearly and strives to promote wholeheartedly,” organizers said in a release.

Beckwith is known for his socially progressive spiritual views, including full acceptance of LGBT people. In a January 2009 TV appearance with Oprah Winfrey, Beckwith agreed with a fellow panelist that being gay was a “gift from God.”

“We’re not talking religion, we’re talking spirituality,” Beckwith said on the show. “People don’t just happen to be gay. When people are born, they have that type of orientation, so he is gay by divine right.”

The Charlotte Literary Festival is an annual event held in Charlotte. It focuses on youth and adult literature. Festival organizers say their mission is to “foster an atmosphere of unity, awareness and growth, through literature, art and culture.”

Famed gay author and Raleigh native Armistead Maupin was a featured speaker at last year’s festival.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.