Caldwell, N.J., Feb. 27, 2019 – Caldwell University’s English Department celebrated Black History Month with an African American Read-In Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Cougar Den on campus.
The featured speaker was Dr. Valerie Lewis-Mosley, who teaches in the Caldwell University Theology and Philosophy Department. She spoke of the cost many fearless African- Americans paid in carrying forward their history through language, literature, readings and words. She stressed the importance of knowing and communicating the stories including the fact that many African-Americans could read and write before the Emancipation Proclamation but would not let others know for fear of punishment. “Books carry a legacy of a people,” she said.
Lewis-Mosley noted she is a great-granddaughter of South Carolina Gullah Geechees, descendants of enslaved Africans who were transported from Barbados to South Carolina; those ancestors of hers taught others to read and write. She spoke of the fortitude of many people of African descent who traveled to the United States and would hide bricks with writing on them underneath dirt, fearing others would discover they could read and write. Lewis-Mosley shared her favorite stories and writers including the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too,” which states, “I too, am America.”
Students, faculty and staff were invited to read their own favorite poems or short passages from African American writers or to share their own creating writing.
The National African American Read-In is the nation’s oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature. It was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month.