Leon County Public Library hosts African-American Read-In

The Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library recently hosted the 24th National African-American Read-In. The event was held on Thursday, Feb. 28th from 6-8 p.m. and was open to the public.

“Over a million readers of all ethnic groups from all over the world participate,” said Mary Douglas, the Youth Services Coordinator for the library. “The goal of the event is to promote literacy as an important part of Black History Month celebrations.”

The event is held around the world in schools, churches, bookstores and libraries throughout the month of February. The African-American Read-In is sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English and is endorsed by the International Reading Association.

Those who attended the event were invited to read from their favorite books that were authored by African-Americans. Members of the crowd read excerpts from books by Maya Angelou, Bell Hooks, Jamaica Kincaid, James Weldon Johnson, Nelson Mandela, and a local author Marilynn Griffith.

The evening began with an audio picture book presentation of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Cay Hohmeister, the library director, was the first to share an excerpt from one of her favorite authors. She read “Dinosaurs,” an excerpt from Jamaica Kincaid’s book “Talk Stories.”

“When I first read this excerpt, it reminded me of my first experience visiting a museum and the experiences I shared with my children when I took them to their first museum,” said Hohmeister. “Finding unique ways to relate to stories is one of the joys of reading to me,” she said. “You always find something interesting around the corner.”

Carolyn Elkins, a former librarian, read several children’s stories about Barack Obama and the First Family. She said children’s books tend to be her favorites because she volunteers with kids. But she has found that they reveal strong truth and history with simple words.

Asha Rizor, a senior molecular and cellular biology student, also read from one of her favorite books at the event. She read an excerpt on female empowerment from Bell Hooks book “Communion: The Female Search for Love”.

“This is my first time coming to this event,” said Rizor. “But when I heard about it I instantly wanted to come. I feel it’s important to honor our culture and really appreciate the art that’s been produced for us.”

Anyone interested in attending next year’s African American Read-In should visit the Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library’s website at www.leoncountylibrary.org or visit the National Council of Teachers of English website at www.ncte.org.