YOUNGSTOWN Read-in focuses on black writers

This is the second annual black read-in program.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Many Americans are anticipating Feb. 3 with visions of beer nuts, a reclining arm chair and football on the tube, but about 1 million people will spend that day revisiting the works of black American writers.
The national African American Read-In Chain will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday. The local read-in chain will begin at 3 p.m. and conclude at about 5 p.m. at the Choffin Career Center. There will be a local observance of the national read-in at 4 p.m. with a collective reading of works by Langston Hughes.
The read-in will feature readings of black writers by individuals from every facet of local life -- teachers, students, TV personalities, theater groups and book lovers.
The only limitations on selections, said Dr. Susan Stevens, 2002 read-in program committee, are that the selection must be by a black author and no duplication in selections.
Read-ins have been conducted locally for several years at schools such as The Rayen School and Campbell Memorial High School, said Stevens. This is only the second year there has been a collective community effort.
Seeking diversity: The committee is looking for a large -- in excess of last year's 250 -- and diverse group of people to come out to enjoy the readings.
"The idea behind the African American Read-In is that people of all races can come together and celebrate African-American authors. Therefore, the more people and the more diverse audience we get, the happier we will be," she said.
This year's master of ceremonies will be WFMJ TV-21 personality Carl Bryant, who is host of a Sunday morning show.
During the 4 p.m. hour, all participants will be asked to read excerpts from Langston Hughes' work in honor of the writer and poet's 100th birthday. Stevens said nationally about 1 million readers will be reading various pieces written by black authors during that hour.
History: The first national read-in was held in 1990, sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. In 1991, the National Council of Teachers of English joined the sponsorship. More than 1 million readers from 49 states, the West Indies and African countries have participated.
"The most important thing to take from this is the love of reading," said Stevens. "I think it is very important for children in our community to see the entire community coming together to celebrate African-American writers. It is important that they bear witness to the African-American voice and know that their voice is cherished throughout the world."

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