The Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society held its annual African American Read-In that recognizes work by Black authors and honors a local Civil Rights activist.
The read-in took place outside of John Robert Lewis Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 1 in honor of Black History Month. Dr. Theresa Johnson, the Co-Sponsor of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, read a passage from “Walking with the Wind” in front of the building named after the memoir’s author.
“We used this book several years ago as our reading initiative, and John Lewis came here to visit us and he was awarded a prize,” Johnson said. “It was a spectacular spring when he was here.”
Professor Michael Orlofsky read the latest work by Fred Gray, a Civil Rights activist and lawyer who represented activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Gray knew Lewis personally and remembered the wise words he once told him regarding the continuous fight for equality.
“Keep going,” Orlofsky read. “Keep pushing. Set the record straight. Do it in a nonviolent manner and continue to do it until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
According to Dr. Johnson, it is “overwhelming” that Sigma Tau Delta in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of English, can hold the event.
“After reading his memoir, meeting some of his family members, and as Professor Orlofsky recounted Fred Gray’s latest award, it is just something I feel we have to do every year,” Johnson said.
The African American Read-In recognized and celebrated several Black authors who wrote different works that ranged from poetry to novels. Sigma Tau Delta President Jason Frye read a poem by James Weldon John called “A Poet to His Baby Son.”
According to Frye, reading poetry from Black authors broadens our perspective.
“It enhances our educational experience,” Frye said. “It also increases the diversity of the literature that you can learn about.
“Each piece of literature that comes from a different region or from a different race of people provides a different view of the world, and as someone who is an English major, I think that it is important for us to gain different views of the world from different people because it helps us understand the universal human experience.”