By Sequoia Sinclair | Staff Writer
Dr. Seretha Williams, a professor in the department of English and Foreign Languages, hosted the African-American Read-In event at Augusta University on Thursday, Feb. 23.
One of the major events in honor of Black History Month, it took place in the JSAC Ballroom between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
This is the first time that the event presented keynote speaker Dr. Maryemma Graham. This was also the first themed African American Read-In event for the university. The main focus of the read-in was on African-American authors who have roots in Georgia.
“It’s important for students who are here to learn about the culture in Georgia,” Williams said. “Especially since they are here. One of the ways to do that is in the literature.”
Williams has done extensive research on African-American author, Dr. Margaret Walker, and reached out to her mentor, renowned author and professor Dr. Maryemma Graham, who was the muse, editor, and researcher of Walker as well.
Graham started her education at Paine College, when both Paine and Augusta State University were still segregated at the time.
“Back then, it was unusual to spent[d] a career looking at a field and trying to map its growth,” Graham said. “I feel very grateful that I got in on the ground floor where [black] people were writing and publishing, where women were publishing.”
The community that Graham was exposed to was one she wanted to stay in. As Walker’s muse, Graham learned a deeper appreciation for the South.
“I witnessed all people, Black, Native American, Mexican, fight for unity despite what might appeared to be difference,” she said. “Walker, I think, was pushing against the misconceptions of the South.”
“My reflection of her influence on me to say, ‘If you think and believe in something, you have to make it happen,’” she added.
Graham spoke on the importance of remembering the past and using literature to dig for the truth in order to remind people of their history.
“With a history of exclusion, finding a truthful history can be hard, things can be lost, so we have to keep digging and keep searching and recovering to fight for and sustain social justice,” Graham said. (Pull-out Quote)
More than 130 students attended the read-in event on Feb. 23. Some students and faculty read excerpts from novels, poems, essays and short stories from African-American authors, including authors who got their stardom in Augusta, Ga.
Contact Sequoia Sinclair firstname.lastname@example.org.