African American Read In

Does your school, church, community center, or library hold an African American Read-In during Black History Month? If not, do think planning something. It’s not too late!

With so many African American/Black books being banned and challenged around the country, consider taking this opportunity to uplift and celebrate African American/Black voices.

This annual event was started by the Black Caucus of the NCTE to bring communities together around literature written by African American/Black authors. During a month that focuses on history,this serves as a reminder of the importance of our stories.

The requirement is simple: gather together and read literature written by an African American/Black author on any day during the month. That’s it!

Years ago, I did a lot of planning for the event. I got people from across campus to read something from a list of works I’d previously selected. Readers were sent copies of the readings, and on that day in February we’d gather in the library and just listen to students, deans, faculty members, staff members, and even the ISU president read. Sometimes, we displayed artworks because art is also text to be read. Last year, our event was virtual, and it was such a great event. I was able to put together funding to bring in Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, author of A Black Woman’s History of the United States, and Black women faculty members read via Zoom. Those funds don’t exist anymore so, this year I’m asking for volunteers from members of the African American/Black community on campus to select something they want to share and come be a reader. And it will be epic.

There are so many ways to plan this event! Coming together to share stories is always such a lovely thing to do. Think about planning something to celebrate this literature because it does matter, and it shouldn’t be erase. The NCTE’s website provides a toolkit to get you started.