African American History Month closes out with read-in

by Robert Jackson

One-by-one, they stepped up to the microphone. Students from the diverse crowd read poetry at the African American Read-In (AARI) at the Union Avenue and Macon Cove campuses and most centers, while others broke out in song or dance or a combination of all three.

African American Read-In coordinator Michael Rounds addresses the diverse crowd of students, faculty and staff

African American Read-In coordinator Michael Rounds addresses the diverse crowd of students, faculty and staff.

The Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English and University of Memphis College of Education professor Jerrie Cobb Scott established the AARI in 1989 to celebrate African American authors and promote literacy. The event emerged at Southwest about 15 years ago. Nowadays, Mondays in February are devoted to celebrating African American history at Southwest with artistic and academic expression. Social Sciences Professor Malinda Wade says the goal is to celebrate unity. Here at Southwest, it is such an awesome event, Wade said. Our faculty, staff and students come together to read the works of African American artists or their own original pieces, she added.

The crowd of about 50 students on the Macon Cove campus read the works of such timeless authors as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Margaret Walker, while faculty and staff members also stepped up to the mic and into the spotlight. Dr. Jennifer Townes (Teaching Academy director) read You Had to Go to Funerals from Alice Walker’s Revolutionary Petunias; Joyce Mogley (Student Affairs program specialist) presented We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, Steven Gaines (speech instructor) read an excerpt from the eulogy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Benjamin E. Mays, Kenderek Harris (Admissions specialist) read the poem Micah: In Memory of Medgar Evers by Margaret Walker from the book Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement, and Robert Jackson (projects coordinator in Communications and Marketing) read Hughes’ Mother to Son.

African American History Month closes out with read-in

AARI campus coordinators were: Michael Rounds and Lisa Coleman (Macon Cove); Malinda Wade (Union Avenue); Dr. Marcia Hunter (Maxine Smith Center); Yvonne Martin (Gill Center); and Vernita Boone and Bertha Looney (Whitehaven Center). Rounds thanked the crowd and coordinators for helping make the powerful and moving event a reality and had high praise for all the participants. Attendees witnessed a living history—voices of the past, speaking to the present, Rounds said. The student performers were awesome, both faculty and staff were amazing, and the entire event was phenomenal!