Tri-C’s Annual African American Read-In Gives Power to the Minorities

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Author: Asha Blake: Eastern Campus

For many minorities, having an outlet to express themselves is very important. It not only gives them a chance to speak their truth, but also helps them build a community around people who they can relate to. Communication is an essential factor when trying to keep a community thriving. No matter what form of communication it is, whether it be spoken word, rapping or poetry, having some type of way to reach out to others is helpful when a person needs someone to talk to.  

On Feb. 13, 2020, Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus held an event that gave African Americans a platform to show others how they felt. This event was the sixth annual African American Read-In. It began with the two emcees Jacques Smith, the program manager of the Black American Council (BAC), and Russell Brower, the Eastern Campus student government president, speaking about the event and introducing the co-sponsors, Michelle Rankins, assistant professor of English and National Council of Teachers of English member (NCTE), and Student Life Advisor Mynetta Brower. Smith then announced the four guest speakers: Reverend Paul Sadler, Mayor Benjamin Holbert III, Dr. Christopher Hawkins, and Russell Brower.   

These speakers each read a poem that they held dearly to their hearts. Reverend Sadler read a Langston Hughes poem, Mayor Holbert presented a poem titled “King Heroin,” Dr. Hawkins read a personal poem, and President Brower read two poems: one by Langston Hughes (a different poem from Sadler) and another by Paul Dunbar. The eloquence of these poets helped show their thoughts and gave the audience a look into their minds.  

After these speakers went up to present their poems, the audience had an opportunity to come up and present something if they wanted to share. The members of the audience consisted of high school students and their teachers, Tri-C students, and faculty members. A lot of high schoolers went up to talk about many different topics, from parent abandonment to relationship problems. Having these students go up shows that people never should judge a book by its cover. Even if they are young, that does not mean that they do not have serious moments that happen in their lives.  

The event had a fantastic turnout. Many people were having fun and engaged in student’s poems and raps. Dr. Hawkins even made a comment about the turnout and said, “It is an honor and pleasure to see so many people here.” Overall, a lot of the audience seemed to enjoy this event and the community that was made from this read-in was beautiful.  

Poetry and spoken word can bring so many different people together. In the audience, there wasn’t just African American people, but so many more different ethnicities and minorities. This event showed that even though the poster was about an African American Read-In, many more people were allowed to come and join in on the influential movement. When asked how he felt about the event, President Brower said, “This event was very moving and eye opening to me. It showed how powerful the words of poetry are.” Every year Tri-C hosts an African American Read-In, and every year it seems to be more impactful.  

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