By Deniece Diggins
“SHINE, SISTER, SHINE! You have to say it like that, you can’t say shine sister shine. SHINE SISTER SHINE!” said Ramona Stewart, author and Tri-C alumna, as she discussed her own book at the Tri-C African American Read-In.
This year for Black History Month, Tri-C hosted the African American Read-In (AARI), part of a national campaign promoted by the National Council of Teachers of English, to emphasize the importance of literacy in our community. The AARI featured poets, authors, Tri-C alumni and faculty as speakers to celebrate and share the importance of literature and writing their individual successes. They spoke of great African American authors, local and famous, family, teachers, and environmental experiences as inspiration and motivation for their work. The speakers also shared colorful and evocative excerpts from their published works and poems. Speaker Kareemah Hairston, poet and Tri-C student, spoke from her poem “Corner Queen Patriot.”
“This corner stinks of urine and reeks of weed. Broken glass and broken dreams, winos and crack-heads. Mother Queen, she stands there coddling these dope boys. She is dope fiend. Dopamine. She’s got a love for the drug, but she’s a drug alone, a fix on her own.”
Aside from listening to the panel of speakers, the audience was encouraged to share their own pieces of work or share African American authors and poets that have inspired them. The panel also indulged in a Q&A from the audience.
Tri-C student, Reginald Latten, asked speaker LaTasha Watts what motivated her to become so successful after growing up in the foster care system.
“It was a struggle, I’m not going to lie to you, but I kept going. And I’m really spiri tual, so I would pray a lot, and I just started to engulf myself in the world that was around me,” Watts said.
Many students who attended the event, walked away feeling inspired and moved by the panel. Danielle Smith, a medical assisting major, said
“It was very inspirational, and hearing everybody’s stories was really nice… makes me want to do more.” Elizabeth Zimmerman, Veterinary Technology major, said “It was very inspirational and it really made me open my mind.”
“Black history month is a time to remember the past,” Lattern said. “Times where you can worship the future, here at the community college we do both.” This black history event was very entertaining. The speakers show that history can inspire greatness.”
The AARI is an invaluable experience for students and individuals in our community. It exposes you to very talented and inspirational people and gives you a voice through active interaction and appreciated input. Next time the AARI comes around, be sure to drop in and soak in some great energy, with great people.