African American Read-In celebrates 30 Years at UofL

Thirty years ago, a group of UofL scholars gathered to read African American authors’ works aloud, celebrating literature during Black History Month. Led by Celeste Nichols, who in 1992 earned her PhD at UofL – the first African American to do so – the event boasted such auspicious attendees as Blaine Hudson, later Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Ed Lassiter, who worked in a variety of roles at UofL including as director of Black Student Affairs.


Ed Lassiter (r) emcees at the African American Read-In in 2019.

This year, on February 10, UofL’s African American Read-In celebrates its 30th anniversary. Readers will gather in Ekstrom Library’s east side lobby from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to read their favorite authors’ works aloud. Lassiter returns as the event’s emcee, Joan D’Antoni and Fannie Mae Cox continue as organizers, students, faculty, staff and the public are invited. Thus the tradition begun by Nichols, who passed away in 1996, continues.

UofL’s event is sponsored by the University Libraries, the UofL English Department, and the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equity (CODRE). The Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English founded the event nationally in 1990 to celebrate literacy during Black History Month.

Volunteers who would like to read are invited to contact D’Antoni, U of L professor of English Composition, at to schedule a time. Readers receive free books; attendees have the chance to win free books via periodic drawings.

Books to be handed out include I’m Down, Mishna Wolff; Living by the Word, Alice Walker; The Work, Wes Moore; Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, Ntozake Shange; and The Story of Ruby Bridges, Robert Coles, among many others.


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