PISCATAWAY, NJ — The Piscataway Library continued its annual celebration of Black history and achievement with its 2nd Annual African American Read-In on Saturday, where various residents were invited to read their favorite book or inspirational poem via a Zoom virtual presentation.

The 2nd Annual African American Read-In, a nationwide initiative established by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English “encourages communities to come together to read and discuss notable works about African Americans and works written by Black authors.”

The two-hour program featured readings from familiar poets such as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and those from authors who may not be household names but also have inspirational messages, such as Resurrection of the Errand Girl: An Introduction by Nikky Finney which tells about a young woman stepping into her own power.

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Several participants recited original works which they dedicated to family members who were impactful to their upbringing, and one read a selection of biographies from The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World, focusing on President Barack Obama, gymnast Simone Biles and rapper Sean “Jay-Z” Carter.

“One of the things that makes me happy is spending time with my family,” said Piscataway Councilwoman Chanelle McCullum who read Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s Layla’s Happiness, a story about a seven-year-old who loves life.

But the highlights of the program were the children who participated. 4-year-old Isley McArthur recited Maya Angelou’s poem, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, showcasing her early reading skills, and Zaire Copeland, a middle school student read from W. Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine Stories.

TAPinto Piscataway was proud to join the Read-In, reciting Langston Hughes’ I,Too,Sing America and I Look at the World, both, while written during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance, relate to the current civil strife in America. And Theme for English B, which this author feels speaks to the diverse community of Piscataway and encourages students to learn from cultural differences.

Guest poet Michael Kleber Diggs, a former Minnesota Poet Laureate joined the Read-In from his home in the Minneapolis area, reciting Claude McKay’s poem, America which was also written during the Harlem Renaissance followed by a selection of poems from his upcoming book, Wordly Things.

“This year was difficult, for a host of reasons, but the resilience of the human spirit was very much on display today in each of you,” the Read-In’s organizer and Adult Services Librarian, Joy Robinson said after the program. “Thank you all so much for reminding this community that we have the strength and the will to rise up and face whatever challenges lie ahead.”

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