Student Life hosts read-in to celebrate Black History Month

By Abigail Meredith, Assistant Arts Editor

Monday, Feb. 13, the Lower GC smelled like coffee and sounded like poetry.

blackhistorymonthalena
Dr. Brent Newsom recites poetry for the event. / Alena Blakley, The Bison 

February is Black History Month and to honor the days and the people, the English department and Student Life co-sponsored a read-in. Students and professors a like participated in it.

Dr. Brent Newsom, Assistant Professor of English, helped organize the event.

He said he believes that the read-in was just one of many ways to celebrate African American contributions to our culture.

“The experiences and writings of African Americans are an essential part of American history, literature and culture,” Newsom said.

“This event is a very small way to acknowledge that fact and celebrate the contributions of African American writers to our nation.”

The event featured not only poems by African-American writers, but sermons, fictions, dramas and speeches.

“In the past some readers have selected works by influential writers ranging from Frederick Douglass, to novelists like Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker or contemporary poets like Robert Hayden and Natasha Trethewey,” Newsom said.

“This year two of the writers will include Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose book ‘Between the World and Me’ addresses contemporary race issues and Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of a Washington DC church.”

Those participating in the read-in include anyone interested and passionate about celebrating African American influence and accomplishment.

“I want to encourage students of all backgrounds to read widely and to appreciate the diversity of American literature,” Newsom said.

Senior communication studies major Robyn J.N. Kuylen is one of those students.

She read the poem “The Sociology of a Black Woman” by Regina Rivers.

“I am excited that I [got] to read, express myself and even practice being in front of people,” Kuylen said.

“Also, gaining the audience attention through this read-in,” she said.

According to Newsom, events like OBU’s read-in was a widely-held event across the country.

“The African American Read-In is an event celebrating the contributions of black writers to American life and literature,” Newsom said.

“Institutions and organizations all over the country hold similar events, which began in 1990 with the support of the National Council of Teachers of English.”

Newsom said he believes that these writing are crucial to both the history of America and literature.

“The experiences and writings of African Americans are an essential part of American history, literature, and culture,” Newsom said.

“This event is a very small way to acknowledge that fact and celebrate the contributions of African American writers to our nation.”

Kuylen’s own unique culture contributes to her belief that different cultures should be welcomed.

“Being a multicultural Belizean international student has widened my understanding of the African-American history,” Kuylen said.

“However, having a melting pot of cultures has definitely allowed me to embrace my multi-cultural ethnicity, and I believe that it should be embraced throughout the world.

“It is all about roots, heritage, culture and love unifying as one.”

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