The National Council for Teachers of English, along with the Black Caucus held Florida A&M University’s first African-American Read-In, held in FAMU’s Gore Educational Complex Wednesday.
The purpose of the event was not only to bring exposure to African-American literature, but also to celebrate African-American writing. The event also served as an example for education students on how to go about setting up a read-in for their future classrooms.
Coordinator of english education Patricia Youmans, Ph.D., along with her students chose pieces that resonated with them to present at the read-in.
Youmans wanted to pose a question to the audience to acknowledge that although African-Americans have come a long way, there is still quite a bit further to go. To do so, she selected an excerpt from the book “Where Do We Go From Here” by Dr. Martin Luther King for an audience member to read.
“Many believe that because FAMU is an HBCU that students get exposed to African-American literature, but that is not exactly true,” Youmans said. “I think that what the students read has made an impact on them. The two students–LeAnn Jackson and Jamarya Rosier–that chose “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, tell me that the poem helps them make it through the day because it’s motivational.”
The read-in also featured more recent literary works such as “Criminal Acts (Black and White)” read by Kourtney Brooker, Monisha Scott and Kevin Troutman. The piece is based on the Black Lives Matter movement, and served as bridge between the older literature chosen and the literary works of today.
That piece sat particularly well with Marcus Stallworth, third-year FAMU health science student.
“We read a lot about the history and struggles that African-Americans went through over the years, but not usually about what’s currently happening to us right now,” Stallworth said. “I could really feel what was being read during the “Criminal Acts” piece on a more personal level.”
Former math education professor Jerry Holt, Ph.D., recited “An Ante-Bellum”, a Paul Lawrence Dunbar sermon. Holt had the crowd in awe as he recited Dunbar’s poem in the same dialect that it was written.
Martina Miller, fourth-year FAMU business administration student from Miami felt like the sermon took the event to another level.
“I did not expect that at all,” Miller said. “The way he recited it by memory in the same accent as it was written was amazing. He spoke so powerfully.”
The African-American read-in will be held annually during the month of February to celebrate Black History Month.
For more information, visit ncte.org/aari.