The Academic Support Center (ASC)
at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary hosted an African American read-in on Monday, February 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Center, located on the Seminary campus, was filled with readers and listeners the entire day.
Sherry Arconti, who serves as a tutor and instructor at the Seminary, coordinated the event in honor of Black History Month and in participation with the eighteenth National African American Read-In, first sponsored in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers in English.
Members of the Seminary community—faculty, students, and employees—signed up to read for 5-minute increments or longer throughout the day. Each one read from a personal selection or from one of the books provided by ASC. All of the reading material was written by African Americans.
“I was so impressed by the wide array of selections chosen by members in our community,” said Arconti. “Writers of poetry, prose, fiction, humor, and sermons were represented. What stuck with me the most was just how evocative those voices were. Listening to folks reading aloud brought these stories to life and helped us to enter that shared community, to feel that connection between text and voice and lives.”
“This event brought together people from throughout the community together to appreciate the wealth of literature written by African Americans,” stated Kathy Mapes, who directs ASC, the only seminary-based academic support center of its kind among ATS schools.
Since 1991, The African American Read-in has been supported by the National Council of Teachers in English and endorsed by the International Reading Association. More than a million readers of all ethnic groups, from 49 states, the West Indies, and African countries have participated. The goal is to make the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities. Since it was established, Read-ins have occurred all over the country the first Sunday and Monday in February.
Mapes and Arconti consider the response to the Seminary’s first Read-in validation for incorporating the event as an annual February occurrence.
Slightly more than 200 students attend Louisville Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is also recognized by the United Methodist, Christian Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches for training its members for ministry. Approximately 19% of the student body is African American.