News

Students Commemorate Black History Month Through Read-in Chain

default article imageFaculty and students from the University gathered for the Black History Month Readin Chain that took place at 9:00 am on February 6 on the second floor of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center.

The event was designed to celebrate African-American history in a manner that showcased the importance of literacy in today’s society. This event was organized by University students, as well as Mercy Azeke, Dean of the Center for Student Success. Attending this event were students of the West Side Christian Academy Elementary School (WSCA), a sociology class from the University and New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos.

The room was set up with several chairs for students and a podium where students read poems and literature in front of the crowd. The walls were decorated with several inspirational quotes and words spoken by famous African-Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The other room was designed to have fun activities where the children were able to write their own poems and literature; they could then hang them upon the “Poetry Clothesline,” where classmates and family members could read them. Children wrote about anything they wanted, such as baking cakes and playing sports. There also was an area where the children could read books to each other.

Children, volunteers, parents and teachers all came together to dedicate the day to reading poems and literature of several different African-American authors. The readings included selections about African-American culture, skin color, how they were raised and life experiences.

“This event is a celebration of literacy and to embrace the African-American literature in general,” said Marilyn Ward, the Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Programs.

One of the poems read was by renowned author and poet, Maya Angelou. Another poem read was about George Washington Carver, who taught himself to read in pursuit of a higher education.

The sociology class in attendance was divided into four groups. Each group read one piece involving the importance of literature. Though the students were expected to attend and participate, many were glad to have the opportunity to promote literacy and education to the young audience.

“The event was very enjoyable and featured many works by well-known African-American writers,” said William Scarano, a student in the class. “I feel that there might have been a larger Monmouth student turnout had the event been publicized a bit more widely, but I was very pleased to see that Monmouth provided a forum for the promotion of cultural sensitivity and diversity.”

One of the WSCA students happened to have written a short story and read it to the audience. It was a tale of three swans who lost their parents and embarked on a journey to find safety and their remaining family. The faculty of WSCA was very proud of her ability to write without provocation, as well as read her story in front of a large audience.

Soon after this, Senator Kyrillos took the podium and read White Water, a children’s book about a young African-American in the earlier, segregated days of America who became preoccupied with the idea of drinking from the “white’s only” water fountain.

He was warmly welcomed and has been invited to various University events in the past. He will likely attend future events as well.

“I loved being with the kids, reading and discussing some important lessons, and letting them know how important it is for them to learn to love to read,” Kryillos said. “[They were] a bright, happy group.”

Jeffery Jackson, the school’s principal, said that he was extremely proud of the event’s turn out. According to his father’s wise words, he said “People always ask about what educators should do about kids struggling with their education. Well, now, we are doing something about it. It’s amazing.”

Mercy Azeke, Dean of the Center for Student Success, said that he was very pleased with the event because it was very successful in promoting literacy, as well as African-American authors to the youths in attendance.

“I thought that the event brought together community leaders, the MU administrators, faculty and students for a very good cause, which is to encourage our grade school students to read,” Azeke said. “I was very happy that it took place at Monmouth University; [it was] an opportunity to expose our grade school children to a university environment.”

West Side Christian Academy has been focused on children’s education for nearly 12 years. Children are inspired to write every day, especially while studying African-American literature in dedication to Black History Month.