Loyola University Chicago

Arrupe College


Second Annual African American Read-In

Second Annual African American Read-In

On Thursday, February 23rd, the Arrupe College faculty hosted the second annual African American Read-In for a crowd of fifty students as part of Arrupe’s celebration of Black History Month.  The African-American Read-In (AARI) is a national initiative that was created by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1989.

During the Read-In students and staff read excerpts of literature from some of their favorite African-American poets and authors, including W.E.B. DuBois, June Jordan, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gloria Naylor and Robert Hayden. 

Freshman Jason Williams read “Dreams,” written by poet Langston Hughes in 1932.  He explained, “I chose this poem because everyone has dreams and everyone has obstacles in achieving their dreams.”  The event culminated in a raffle where participants won copies of books by African-American authors and Kindle Fire tablets.  Books were donated by Loyola Libraries and the American Library Association and tablets were donated by Reforma, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.  

Dr. Julia Bninski, literature and writing lecturer at Arrupe College, organized the event, remarking, "We wanted the Read-In to create an informal, accessible setting that invites students to engage with literature outside of the classroom. At the beginning of the event, I asked students to add their names to the sign-up sheet if they wanted to read out loud. I got a few takers, mostly students who don't mind public speaking. As the event went on, I enjoyed seeing how more and more students got comfortable with the idea of reading for an audience. Some of them went over to the display provided by the Loyola Libraries and picked up a book to share. Others pulled out their smartphones, found their favorite African-American poems, and asked to join the list of people reading out loud."

Freshman Jessica Aigbokhai read a poem by Lucille Clifton, “Won’t You Celebrate with Me.” She remarked, “This event allows us to share the great things people of my race have contributed to literature and I like to be informed.”