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York honors Black History Month

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City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) made this point last Thursday when he introduced a resolution calling for a month-long moratorium on the use of the "N word."The next day, at a ceremony to honor Ella Fitzgerald, Simone-Marie Meeks, wife of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), called on adults in southeast Queens to use the month as an opportunity to reconnect young people with Black History.It was from this emphasis on education that York College's annual "African American Read-in Chain" was born 18 years ago. According to English Professor Charles Coleman, the event, which is celebrated in basements, churches, schools and living rooms across the country, was founded by Memphis State professor Jerri Scott Cobb in 1989."She felt emphasizing literacy was important," Coleman said.And so the annual "Read-in Chain" was born. Coleman said the event has been celebrated at York since its inception and Sunday and Monday a handful of students and professors came to the African American Studies department to read passages from their favorite black authors.Langston Hughes was a favorite, particularly his poem "The Weary Blues." Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker were honored, as were LeRoi Jones (known as Amiri Baraka) and Malcolm X.Coleman read a passage Monday from "The Miseducation of the Negro," by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson, Coleman said, is known as the founder of Black History Month, which was established in 1976. Woodson died in 1950, but the scholar and author is credited with emphasizing black history long before Black History Month was created. In fact, Woodson founded Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month, in 1927, Coleman said."Of course we should celebrate everyone's history every month, but there's nothing wrong with having one month to strut your stuff," Coleman said.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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