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Saint Mary's 10th annual African American Read-In kicks off Black History Month
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

When read aloud, beautifully written words reach their height of power, as they did at Saint Mary's 10th annual African American Read-In Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, during a special assembly, 11:20 a.m.-noon, in historic Pittman Auditorium. The theme of this year's Read-In is Enjoying the Voices and Witnessing the Power of African American Literature.


The written word and performance art can be powerful forces for social change, protest, inspiration, reflection, insight into the lives of others and self-expression about personal experiences and perspectives. When read aloud, beautifully written words reach their height of power, as they did at Saint Mary's 10th annual African American Read-In Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, during a special assembly, 11:20 a.m.-noon, in historic Pittman Auditorium. The theme of this year's Read-In is Enjoying the Voices and Witnessing the Power of African American Literature.

Saint Mary's Read-In is part of the National African American Read-In, sponsored each year by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. The national program, celebrating 29 years of encouraging diversity in literature, has also been endorsed by the International Reading Association. Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens who participate, help make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. The goal is to make the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities.

"The African American Read-In is a program in which people across the country read literature by African American authors in celebration of African American literacy," says Reagan Massey '18. "The goal is to explore the vastness of the African American experience through literature."

In 1989, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English accepted the Issues Committee's recommendation that the Black Caucus sponsor a nationwide Read-In on the first Sunday of February. At the request of educators, the week was designated for educational institutions. It was envisioned that following a decade of rigorous campaigning for participants, the African American Read-Ins would become a traditional part of Black History Month celebrations. The commitment for nationwide promotion extends from 1990 to the present. In 1990, the National Council of Teachers of English joined in the sponsorship of the African American Read-In Chain.

"Through African American literature, we hope to highlight the connections between members of Saint Mary's community, connections to our greater Raleigh and Triangle community, and connections to the greater world," says Jennifer Rundles, associate dean of students and instructor of science. "Our goal is to increase the understanding of the many experiences of those who are part of the African American community by exploring the various perspectives of the works of artists and writers."

Students, faculty, and staff participated as readers, including students Ashleigh Henry '18, Olivia Hodge '21, Reagan Massey '18, Monica Pan '19, Lily Spalding '20, Ilse Grace Thomas '20, and faculty/staff members Ms. Virginia Boyd, Ms. Alison Chernin, the Rev. Ann Bonner-Stewart, and Dr. John Hall.

"Thank you to this year's readers and performers for helping to make our 10th Annual African American Read-In a wonderful success," says Read-In Co-Coordinator Diana Williams, director of Kenan Library. "The well-selected literary and musical works by African-American authors and artists, the passionate stage delivery, and the teamwork before and during the program were top notch."

Enjoy this Powerpoint presentation, featuring the readers and their selections.