Food for the Soul

Photo by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

African-American Read-In Attendees Bask in Eloquence of Black Literature

Kicking off with a song and wrapping up with a powerful monologue, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s eighth annual African-American Read-In was nothing short of a soul-feeding experience.

Presented in celebration of Black History Month, readers and listeners alike came together on Wednesday, Feb. 22 to bask in the beauty and eloquence of Black literature. The audience included UMKC faculty, staff, students and members of the Kansas City and language arts communities.

Readers presented excerpts from poems and books by Harlem Renaissance greats, children’s authors and original pieces inspired by personal experiences, while listeners sat back and reflected on the imagery and meaning of each body of work.

Poems of the Lost Boys of Sudan, passed-down stories and thought-provoking literature inspired by overheard conversations and observations of the world were all offered up as food for the soul. Debbie Lee set the tone of the sharing session when she sang a moving rendition of “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired,” a song by the late gospel singer James Cleveland. Others who shared were Cynthia Fails, Amelia Nelson, Keron Hopkins, Adrienne Walker-Hoard, Sharon Gibson, Kelly Hams Pearson, Grace Bentley, Rodney Smith and Tracey Hughes. Among the literature presented were:

Lynda Robinson’s “Cab Driver’s Daughter,”

Cynthia Fails’ forthcoming book “So Okay…Treasured Stories from the Life of James M. Robinson, Sr.,”

Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Maud Martha,”

Former president Barack Obama’s “Audacity of Hope,”

Grace C. Ocasio’s “The Lost Boys of Sudan,” a poem from Ocasio’s collection “The Speed of Our Lives

Onam Liduba’s poem “Child Cry of War,”

Kelly Hams Pearson’s original poems “Incident” and “BWI at 5 a.m.,”

Christopher Paul Curtis’ “The Mighty Miss Malone,” and

Rodney Smith’s original book “Are We Really Crabs in A Barrel?”

Adrienne Walker-Hoard also shared from her recent exhibition, Inside the Art Life of Adrienne Walker-Hoard, about the Gate Mothers, comparing women’s altars in Brazil and South Africa. Tracey Hughes wrapped up the session with a presentation of “I Used to Live in the World,” a monologue taken from the Broadway choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” written by Ntozake Shange.

The National African-American Read-In was founded in 1989 by members of the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). African-American Read-In has been endorsed by both the NCTE and the International Reading Association. Each year, Read-In events are hosted by many libraries, churches and other organizations throughout the country. The UMKC African-American Read-In is hosted by the Miller Nichols Library with sponsorship from the UMKC Friends of the Library.


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