Webster University celebrates Black History Month with African-American Read-In



In celebration of Black History Month, Webster University’s Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA) hosted a read-in as part of the Twenty-Third National African-American Read-In.

The event was held at the MCISA lounge in the MCISA house on Feb. 1.Nine Webster students and faculty members read poems, excerpts and scenes from African-American literature by authors such as Dr. Maya Angelou, Ernest J. Gaines and Alice Walker.

“The reason the MCISA is promoting African-American literature is because this is something we’ve never done and we wanted to do something different to start up Black History Month,” said Niki Parres, host of the event and assistant director of the MCISA.

President Dr. Beth Stroble started the event by reading poems from the book, “Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt,” by Patricia McKissack. “Stitchin’ and Pullin’” is the story of Baby Girl, a young African-American who grows from a child playing beneath her elders’ quilting frame to a member of an intergenerational quilting circle, piecing together her first quilt. In McKissack’s free-verse narrative, Baby Girl chooses fabrics for her quilt. The fabrics have a special meaning for her and her family.

“One of the reasons I chose this book is because the author, Patricia McKissack is a Webster alumni,” said Stroble. “And also it brings me back to my childhood when my grandmother used to make quilts and I still have the ones she made.”

Other readers included Thao Dang Williams, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who read “Souls of Black Folks,” by William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois.

“This book was a required book in one of my undergraduate classes in college,” said Williams. “It helped me be a better critical thinker and learn more on U.S. History.”

Student Government Association (SGA) President Courtney Turner, a sophomore advertising and marketing major, read poems from “3,000 Years of Black Poetry,” by Alan and Raoul Abdul Lomax.

“I love poetry and when I read these poems, they just gave me goosebumps,” said Turner. “That’s when someone writes good poetry.”

Speech communications professor Scott Jensen read an excerpt from “I Never Had It Made: an Autobiography of Jackie Robinson,” by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett. The book is about the story of the first African-American man to play major-league baseball.

“I wanted to read this book for my two youngest sons who also play baseball and look at Jackie Robinson as a hero,” said Jensen. “When I think of the word ‘courage’, I think of Jackie Robinson.”

The event closed with Colette Cummings, the associate dean of students and director of the MCISA, who read “The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours,” by Marian Wright Edelman.

Edelman’s book is a personal letter to her sons. Cummings said the book provides life lessons.

“Ms. Edelman is an amazing woman and she gives such wisdom with the 25 lessons in this book. And it’s just not for parents, but for student’s as well,” said Cummings.

Parres, said she was pleased with the way the event turned out.

“I was very glad so many people came to read and listen to books by African-American authors. I liked that it was very diverse,” said Parres.



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