Yesterday afternoon, approximately 125 Belmont students, faculty, and staff gathered for Belmont’s celebration of the 28th Annual African American Read-In. Sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English, this national event seeks “to promote diversity in…literature, encourage young people to read, and shine a spotlight on African American authors” (NCTE “Council Chronicle,” 2014).
During the hour-long event, 16 volunteer readers gave voice to the poetry of Robert Hayden, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and others. Several passages from James Baldwin and James Weldon Johnson were shared, and other readings ranged from a children’s book written by Kesha Rushing (“Terrell and Keke’s Adventures through Time”) to poetry by Mae Cowdrey (“The Young Voice Cries”). The audience was treated to fiction by Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, and Ralph Ellison.
Belmont English faculty readers included Charmion Gustke, Caresse John, Sue Trout, Jason Lovvorn, David Curtis, and Wyeth Burgess. History professor Pete Kuryla also read.
Although it was the first African American Read-In held at Belmont in many years, it promises to be a rewarding annual tradition.