Decatur holds first annual African American Read In


Kyla Taylor

Sophomore and NEHS Vice President Ulyssa Jacobs reads an excerpt from “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson.

Kyla Taylor, Chief Editor

Decatur held its first annual African American Read-In (AARI), a national event established in 1990 by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in order to celebrate authors of color during Black History Month.

When the school day ended on Feb. 13, students and faculty members gathered in the SDHS media center to attend the reading, which was sponsored by the Seahawk Writing Center and the National English Honor Society. Audience members excitedly dug into the candy that was provided on each table. Communications teacher Dj Thompson set up equipment in order to film the event as several readers came up to the podium to share works of African American literature. A couple of African American students even shared their own works.

Sophomore and NEHS Vice President Ulyssa Jacobs led the event. Her mother and SDHS substitute teacher Carmetta Jacobs were present to support her daughter and the other readers. Jacobs kicked off the AARI by thanking all who came out to the event and then reading an excerpt from “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, a book which she says was given to her by her 8th grade English teacher. Then she read one of her own poems.

Several readers graced the podium after Jacobs. Sophomore Justice Paige shared two of her own pieces: “Irenic,” which she says was inspired by poet Maya Angelou, and “Vibing.” Reading skillfully in the fashion of spoken-word poetry, Paige left the audience in awe of her words and experiences.

The podium was then opened up to anyone who felt inspired to read something. Senior Michael Mareno spontaneously read an excerpt from “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. Senior Kameron Lewis was also inspired to read Langston Hughes’s “I, Too.” Junior Eunice Huesca was prompted to read a short excerpt from “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, a book on which Huesca had written an award-winning essay.

Faculty members were also inspired to join, as Assistant Principal Leland Green read a portion of a critique on the past year’s NFL kneeling controversy, an article entitled, “The courage of Colin Kaepernick” by Michael Eric Dyson. English teacher Jeff Phillips read a favorite poem of his called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron.

English teacher and NEHS adviser Kia Terlizzi say that this will become an annual event at Decatur.