Crystal Giles, librarian, reads “The New Jim Crow” in the R.C. Pugh Library. An African American Read-in will be held in the library Feb. 23 from 2-3 p.m. in honor of Black History Month. (Photo by Allen Brewer)
By Allen Brewer
This year, the R. C. Pugh Library will be hosting its sixth annual African American Read-in for Northwest students, faculty and staff. The event, hosted by Librarian Crystal Giles, will be held Feb. 23 in the Viewing Room from 2-3 p.m.
The DeSoto Center library will also hold it’s first Read-in Feb. 21. The event will be hosted by Librarian Tina Kenton who hopes to introduce students to diverse literature. The event will start at 2 p.m and will feature guest speaker, Dr. Rachell Anderson, a local author and member of the Northwest Board of Trustees.
“As a librarian, I seize every opportunity to promote diverse books to all readers especially our students,” Kenton said. “This event exposes the rich history of African Americans writers through stories. Therefore, I’m hoping that all in attendance will leave wanting to read more diverse literature.”
The Read-in is a national program that is now celebrating it’s 28th anniversary. The project was created by the Black Caucus of National Council of Teachers of English in 1989. The event is meant to inspire young readers with stories by famous African American writers while also reminding them of the struggles for freedom in the Civil Rights sit-ins.
“In 2011, Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, an active member of NCTE, spoke at an event hosted by Deborah Wilbourn,” Giles said. “She inspired me to begin hosting an event.”
Students attending the events will be asked to sit in a circle and read passages of their favorite book by an African American author. Such books can include, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Roots by Alex Haley and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
“I think it is excellent,” Sidney Sykes, a freshman studying computer science from Marks, said. “It is a part of all our history, not just African Americans. History is rich for all races.”
The event is held in February in honor of Black History Month, a special month to concentrate on the accomplishments of all African Americans leaders. This year’s celebration is no less profound by the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“We all need to know and learn of the rich culture and heritage of people of African descent and reading is a great way to learn of such,” Giles said. “African American writers tell our story from our perspective.”
Both students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the event. Black, white, yellow, red or brown, readers of all races and ethnicities can enjoy a day learning about the individuals that helped write for equality.
“The color of your skin doesn’t mater,” Amber Aven, a sophomore studying general college from Harmon, said. “I think it matters what’s in the inside.”