By Julia Meek, IU Communications
The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall filled with chatting, smiles and nerves as Stephanie Power-Carter took the stage at Indiana University's 10th annual African American Read-In.
Bloomington High School North and South students joined more than a million readers across the country Feb. 6 in observance of the 23rd National African American Read-In. Sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English, the event aims to make the celebration of African-American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month.
"African American Read-In is a highlight of my year because it gives me an opportunity to hear you," said Power-Carter, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. "And it gives you an opportunity to shine and to show off your multiple abilities and talents. It brings us all to a place of reverence -- honoring writers of our past, who came before us in struggle. Acknowledging the present and looking to the future."
The Read-In event is one of many IU will host to celebrate Black History Month 2012.
"It will be up to you to continue this legacy of educating each other about the literature," Power-Carter said to the students.
Emcees and IU graduate students Ignoisco Miles and Melody Barham laid down a few ground rules before student readings began.
"We are all here today, together, to recognize African-American authors. We want everyone to be respectful. We want everyone to have fun," Barham said.
Students cheered as their classmates took the stage to present a variety of pieces by African-American writers and originals by the students.
Bloomington High School North student Kwadwo Assennoh read the poem "I Dream a World" by Langston Hughes.
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn.
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind--
Of such I dream, my world!
Sera Radovich, senior at Bloomington High School North has attended IU's African American Read-In for several years. She said her favorite part of the event is listening and sharing with her classmates.
"They have to sign up to read and then be approved. They kind of have to try out, I guess," Radovich said.
IU student Michael Clark changed things up at the reading with a dance presentation in a blue, floor-length robe and white face paint.
Following the Read-In, Clark joined other IU students in a panel discussing issues regarding this year's Black History Month theme, Black Women in American Culture and History.