York College celebrates Black History with read-in

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York College kicked off Black History Month this week by becoming a link in the 14th annual African-American Read-In Chain celebrating literacy and minority authors.

The Read-In Chain, held Sunday and Monday on the Jamaica campus at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., was the start of a month of programs planned at the college in honor of black heritage and accomplishment.

The read-in, organized by the school’s English Department, was part of an annual nationwide event which has always been scheduled for the first Sunday and Monday in February, said professor Charles Coleman, one of the event’s coordinators. About 10 people attended Sunday’s event and about 30 came to Monday’s.

Participants at the read-in were encouraged to read passages from novels, poems, stories and essays written by black authors.

“We come together to read from African-American writers,” Coleman said. “We invite you to read from your favorite passage or your own work.”

Readers chose a variety of works, ranging from Paule Marshall’s novel “The Fisher King,” to a historical essay written by black women’s activist Mary Church Turrell. English Department professor Monica Dyer read a piece written by her daughter in memory of her grandmother.

“It shows how even an average person can leave something that’s worthwhile,” Dyer said of her daughter’s tribute to her grandmother’s strength.

Nationally acclaimed poet Jayne Cortez performed her own works for Monday evening’s read-in, delivering several staccato-style pieces, including “Everywhere Drums,” “Global Inequality” and “A Miles Davis Trumpet.”

This year’s read-in centered on a theme of African-American music traditions and literature in memory of music and jazz professor Dennis Moorman, who taught at the school until his death last year.

York College continued its commemoration of Black History Month with a cultural celebration of African dance, art, music and poetry Tuesday. An exhibit of student artwork also opened Tuesday.

Here are other events planned for February at York College:

— All month: The Fourth Annual Art, Memorabilia, Poetry and Quilting Exhibition, on display at the Performing Arts Center.

— Thursdays: Every Thursday in February the Big Screen in the Student Cafeteria will show a double-feature film program of African-Americans in the movies from 1919 to 1999. Movies start at 5 p.m.

— Friday: The U.S. Postal Service and York College will unveil the Thurgood Marshall Commemorative Stamp, recognizing the achievements of the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice. The event will be held 10 a.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

— Sunday, Feb. 16: A memorial concert for Moorman is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

— Wednesday, Feb. 19: The historical film “Sankofa” will be presented at 4 p.m. at the African-American Research Center.

— Saturday, Feb. 22: Gospel Concert Extraordinaire is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

— Monday, Feb. 24: The Concerned Black Faculty and staff will host a history of the reparations movement at 6 p.m. in the Academic Building.

— Wednesday, Feb. 19: The historical film “African Slave” will be presented at 4 p.m. at the African-American Research Center.

— Thursday, Feb. 27: “Out of the Mouth of Babes,” a children’s and young adults’ celebration of black heritage, will close out Black History Month. The show is slated for 6 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center.

For more information on the programs, call 1-718-262-2354.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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