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UH joins national campaign with African American Read-In


Assistant librarian Mea Warren read a piece for the event. Warren said she thinks UH’s decision to join the national campaign is important because it celebrates Black culture. | Photo by Justin Tijerina \ The Cougar.

UH joined a national campaign Tuesday afternoon at the M.D. Anderson Library Rockwell Pavilion with the UH Libraries’ first annual African American Read-In event, part of UH’s celebration of Black History Month.

Students and  faculty celebrated Black literature and diversity by reading poems, stories and plays written by African-Americans. This is the national campaign’s 26th year, but Tuesday marked the first time for UH to host such an event.

“I wanted to participate to because this is a national event for Black History Month,” assistant librarian Mea Warren said. “I feel like this event is important because, first of all, it allows me as a librarian to combine the celebration of Black culture with reading and how important that is in society as a whole, especially within the Black culture.”

Rachel Vacek, head of web services for UH Libraries, helped arrange the event and said she thought it would be a good way to celebrate Black History Month.

“Reading something is one thing, but hearing it is a lot different,” Vacek said. “A lot more meaning and context can come out. You don’t see a lot of promotion of Black literature and culture in the media, and I think it is important to recognize and celebrate the diversity and the history of the arts, music and literature.”

Those who attended were invited to share excerpts of books, poems and even songs that resonated with them to the audience. Director for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion Niya Blair read Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Ego-Tripping.”

“It really spoke to me,” Blair said. “It speaks about history, and I think that (it applies to) even things going on now. It is a timeless piece.”

Some participants, such as UH Library web developer Richard Peterson, shared some of their own work. Peterson shared both an original song titled “The Color” and an original poem titled “No Salvation.”

“Music has always been a huge part of my life,” Peterson said. “I feel that music and poetry are one of the best ways to communicate with people.”

Those who helped put on the event hope that in the future they can expand the event’s reach.

“We thought this first year we could focus on faculty, staff and students to read, as well as partnering with different organizations and institutes on campus,” Vacek said. “We hope to maybe expand next year and invite people from the Houston Public Library, the Mayor’s office and other institutions in the city.”

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