Read-In celebrates Black History Month

Michael Magnuson

More stories from Michael Magnuson


Staff Photo by Chase Cofield

Junior, Kariamu Joesph reads “The Destruction of Black Civilization: A Great Issue of Race From 4000 BC 2000 AD.”

On Feb. 22, 2017, an African-American read-in was held in the commons area in an effort to promote and celebrate the accomplishments of the African-American community in literature. The reading selections included famous authors such as Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, but it also offered literature that is less widely known. This event was held in high schools throughout the nation in honor of Black History Month.

Junior Adeola Owokoniran chose to participate in this event because she believes that celebrating literature is an important part of this month. This event also helped to promote the study of African-American literature outside of the classroom.

Staff Photo by Chase Cofield
Junior, Ade Owowkoniran reads “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes.

“We read in class, and we hear about it, but we don’t take the time to read it on our own, process it and interpret it in our own point of view,” Owokoniran said. “There are so many ways to learn about African-American literature, so it is about what the individual wants to achieve and take from it.”

Kariamu Joseph feels strongly about this event and believes that African-American literature is something that everyone should learn. The selection that she read at the event focused more on pre-colonized Africa.

“I read “The Destruction of Black Civilization: A Great Issue of Race from 4000 B.C. to 2000 A.D.” I think it is a really interesting book. It details the history of Africa prior to the invasion of the Europeans, and I thought it was interesting for people to read or listen to it,” Joseph said. “I think it was a great opportunity for people to come learn about literature written by African-Americans and other black people. Everyone loves learning, and I think now is more important than ever for people to become aware.”

Senior Gabbi Ingram chose to read “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. She wanted to share this selection because of how its message and theme vary from other poems.

Staff Photo by Chase Cofield
Senior, Gabby Ingram reads “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

“It doesn’t really talk about defeat when a lot of poems do. This poem talks about how other people can think you are defeated but you always come back stronger,” Ingram said.

The size of the crowd at the read-in was not as large as the organizers would have hoped. However, Ingram believes there are still positives from the size of the crowd that a larger crowd would not have been able to possess.

“I think the small crowd made it more intimate and more meaningful. It allowed people to take some time to celebrate the works, look into it, and become more diverse,” Ingram said.

Laysha Johnson, an organizer of the event, had similar thoughts about the attendance as Ingram. Johnson felt that a larger crowd may have taken away the message of the event. She put a lot of work into the read-in, but she does not regret it.

Staff Photo by Chase Cofield
Junior, Laysha Johnson reads “When I Think About Myself” by Maya Angelou.

The smaller the attendance the better because that meant there weren’t herds of people, and the people that were there actually wanted to be there,” Johnson said. “We had to find people to read and what selections to read; it was a  lot to handle, but it was worth it. I think it should be done the same way next year.”

Owokoniran thinks that people should study and celebrate African-American literature outside of this event, but she still thinks that this event should be continued into the future.

“There aren’t only great African-American authors, but there are great authors of every color and every race,” Owokoniran said. “I think it is an important event. It is always important to recognize when something great happens especially in the community of color, so I think it should be a yearly event.”