African American Read-In Shares Novice and Well-Known Works
Faculty, staff, students and community members read book excerpts, recited poetry and performed songs and dramatic enactments to showcase the historical and cultural contributions of African Americans.
Traditionally held in February as part of Black History Month, the 2014 African American Read-In at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was described as “food for the soul” by Gloria Tibbs, librarian/organizational development coordinator and lead planner for the event.
Tibbs’ description was more than on target. Poems of love and betrayal; stories of musicians; and the discovery of ancestors, who were described as “Negro property,” were part of the “food” for the afternoon.
The Read-In was a fusion of campus and community participants who read original works, as well as works from well-recognized authors. Poems and songs, including works by bell hooks, Chris Raschka and Bill Withers, were performed to the delight of the audience.
UMKC Theatre student Aishah Harvey sang a Negro spiritual as she hobbled down the aisle, bent over with her hand quivering as if perched atop a tightly-held cane. Her face was contorted while she shared the tale of her beating at age five at the hands of her owner; she was beaten for taking a piece of peppermint candy that resulted in her twisted, misshapen face.
Harvey received a standing ovation for her performance.
The UMKC Read-In was sponsored by the Friends of the Library.