On Sunday, various Tallahassee community leaders and volunteers read selections from poems, passages of fiction and nonfiction, song lyrics, plays, speeches and children’s books by African-American authors at the Leon County LeRoy Collins Main Library.
There were over 15 readers, ranging from ages 9-65 that read small passages from African-American authors such as, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Richard White, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Chestnutt, Maya Angelou and more. Out of the 18 readers, three readers represented Florida A&M University. Melanie Abrams, an instructor from the Department of English and Modern Languages; Amberly Williams, the 110th Miss Florida A&M University and Dr. Anne Brown, also an instructor from the Department of English and Modern Languages.
Not only did Dr. Brown read a selection from her published book, Deliberate Gaze: Trayvon Martin as Interloper, Outsider and Other, Dr. Brown also helped organized the read-in.
“African-American literature belongs to all of us, it is American literature… it belongs to everybody! And it’s important that people know our contributions and our struggles, but we certainly need to hear these historical and contemporary voices,” said Brown. “And because Tallahassee is such a diverse community, I wanted to make sure that there were diverse readers. I wanted to make sure that there were children readings, males readings, females readings… blacks, whites, different ethnicities, and I want people to know that we shouldn’t just limit the reading of African-American literature to the month of February.”
In attendance was 10-year-old Oni Williams, who attends Woodville Elementary School who said she enjoyed the program.
Oni said she would recommend the book In the Morning and The Party from selected poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar that was read by feature reader, Patricia Edwards. Out of the many readings, Oni said the one she is most familiar with is Please, Baby Please by Spike Lee.
“On a scale from one to ten, one being the worst and ten being the best, I’d say a nine,” said Oni.
English Professor Melanie Abram was invited to be a part of the program as a reader in which she read three short pieces. One being her very own published book, Benediction and Gina’s Bears; Bugs in a Bowl, by David Budbill and I Will Keep Broken Things, by Alice Walker. Abrams said she chose these three particular passages because she thought it would bring a “lighter touch” to the program.
“I tried to pick some pieces that I thought would add a little light, some hope, and a little joy. I believe that there is so much sadness, that we’ve got to remember that there is still joy,” Abrams said.
The African-American Read-In is an annual event put on during Black History Month at the LeRoy Collins Main Library.
For more information on the 2017 African-American Read-In, visit www.LeonCountyFL.gov/Library or call (850) 606-2665.