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Cultural Readings

UMKC Libraries hosts annual African-American Read-In

To say she is the heart and soul of the African-American Read-In is an understatement. As she has every year for the last three years, Gloria Tibbs, Information Commons/ Teaching and Learning Services Librarian at the Miller Nichols Library, encouraged people from all over campus to read, sing, dance or recite at the African-American Read-In (AARI). There were two sessions, one at Miller Nichols Library on Feb. 21and the other on Feb. 29 at Diastole on the Hospital Hill campus.

Joined by dozens of readers, Tibbs and her fellow planners (Tracey Hughes, Kristy Steigerwalt, Ashley Fick, and Stuart Hinds) put the joy back in public reading, celebrating the contributions of all cultures to the storytelling tradition. They billed the read-ins as “food for the soul,” but there were good things to eat as well, such as sweet potato cookies, cupcakes and other fare.

The works of cultural and historic icons were read and sung: Zora Neale Hurston, Debbie Allen, Whitney Houston, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglass and Gordon Parks. Joining in the read-in were representatives from UMKC Alumni, Latina(o)/Chicana(o) Studies, Upward Bound, the School of Graduate Studies, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Black Studies and the University Libraries.

Stuart Hinds, Director of Special Collections at Miller Nichols Library, said, “Take a helping of original poetry, stir in some breathtaking musical interludes, add a generous serving of humor, and sprinkle it all with heartbreaking orations from high school students and you have the recipe for the 2012 African American Read-In.” 

The AARI asks schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community groups, professional organizations and interested citizens to host Read-Ins in their communities. Since 1990, more than one million readers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the West Indies, and African countries have participated. 

The UMKC read-in was sponsored by the UMKC Friends of the Library and the UMKC Alumni Association’s Committee on Multicultural Affairs.

Click here to see more photos from the 2012 African American Read-In events on the UMKC Libraries' Flickr page.

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“Take a helping of original poetry, stir in some breathtaking musical interludes, add a generous serving of humor, and sprinkle it all with heartbreaking orations from high school students and you have the recipe for the 2012 African American Read-In.”

Stuart Hinds
Director of Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library