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Fifth Annual African American Read-In

Books on display at the read-in. (Samantha Hill/The Seahawk)

Randall Library hosted their Fifth Annual African American Read-In at DC Virgo Preparatory school Thursday, Feb 22. Members of UNCW staff and community came together to read books and poems that highlight Black voices.

The Roasted Bookery has collaborated with UNCW to give free books to children who attended the read in. The Roasted Bookery is an independent bookstore located in Wilmington, N.C. Their collection is based on BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ authors and characters.

Kiana Webster, a librarian at UNCW, welcomed participants and expressed gratitude for those attending the read in.

“Hundreds of celebrations of African American reading happen all across the world,” Webster said. She explained how the read-in is centered around the voices of African American authors.

Chris Robinson, a member of the UNCW library staff, shared his gratitude with the audience for attending the read-in and sharing the voices of Black authors. Robinson and other readers told stories of different Black authors throughout the night.

“We are here to celebrate and uplift voices in Black literature,” Robinson said.

Robinson began the read-in with a poem written by himself titled “Reading at the Read-In.” The poem shared a story about people coming together to listen and share the beauty and diversity of Black writers.

Dr. Larissa Malone, read the story “Dancing in the Wings” by Debbie Allen.

“Racial diversity is not expressed in the arts,” Malone said.

Dr. Larissa Malone reading “Dancing in the Wind” by Debbie Allen. (Samantha Hill/The Seahawk)

“Dancing in the Wings” tells the story of a young girl being shunned by her peers in her dance class. With her skills and determination, she outshines her peers and performs a dance of her dreams.

Sydney Thaxton, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and Tiffany Vann were the second readers and read “The Sea Surfers” by Sakari Milan. The story tells the tale of King Abubakari of the Mali Empire who led over 2,000 boats across the sea in 1311. This occurred 181 years before Christopher Columbus.

Martha Afeste read from her published book, “Footsteps to Freedom.” Her book is a collection of her personal poems that she documented over the past 50 years of her life.

“This book has poems that talk about my existence in the world,” said Afeste. “To live in a world that did not love me like how I loved myself.”

Martha Afeste holding her book “Footsteps to Freedom.” (Samantha Hill/The Seahawk)

Afeste explained her inspiration for publishing her poems. Afeste’s mother and her father never finished high school and her grandmother did not know how to read.

“She [Afeste’s grandmother] could not read. He [Afeste’s grandfather] could not read. So, I read,” said Afeste.

She read her poem, “Faces of the Sun” which speaks about how the sun shines on the essences of who we are and how we should embrace our inner and outer beauty.

Before concluding the read-in, students who attend DC Virgo Preparatory school read some works by Black authors. Alex McMilliam and Rashawn Sidbury read the story “We March” by Shane W. Evans that illustrates members of a march going to listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  E’Zayire Davis-McGee, Malaya Sykes and Jack Meade all read poems by Black poets.

Applauses filled the room from the audience as they celebrated the voices of black writers at the Fifth Annual African American Read-In.

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