Everyone is welcome at the 8th annual African American Read-In at the Springfield Art Museum on Friday, February 24 from 7 to 8:30 PM. This collaborative evening of poignant and uplifting performances is organized by Missouri State University Libraries, Springfield Public Schools, the Springfield-Greene County Library District, Drury University, the Ozark Literacy Council, and the Springfield chapter of the NAACP.
A national event created in 1990 by Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott of the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the African American Read-In promotes diversity in children’s literature, encourages young people to read, and shines a spotlight on African American authors. The Springfield-area event is the only one listed with the NCTE in Missouri that is not located in either St. Louis or Kansas City.
This year’s theme, Picture Yourself in Books, speaks to founder Scott’s original impetus for creating the event. “To get [young people] engaged, one of the things they need is to see themselves in books,” says Scott. “They need to know some of the characters are African Americans just like some of them are. It is important for all of us to see ourselves in books, because that encourages us to read in a different way and encourages us to write more.”
Similarly, in an effort to help audiences better see themselves reflected in the art on view; the Museum has recently added portraits and short biographies of featured artists to its wall text in the Creating an American Identity exhibition, with plans to expand this effort to all galleries in 2017. Museum Director Nick Nelson notes, “Not only does the expanded information highlight the diversity of the artists on view, but it instantly humanizes their work and the processes involved in creating it. We are very pleased to be able to host the African American Read-In and to assist in making diversity more visible in our community.”
Guests of the Read-In will enjoy refreshments, musical performances, dance routines, and spoken-word performances from Central High School, Missouri State University’s Untamed Tongues, and His Legacy Ministries, among many others. Also included will be a raffle of books by African American authors, movie passes, art classes, and tickets to the Black History Month Banquet. This event is free and open to the public. The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 E. Brookside Drive.