Museum to hold fourth African American Read-In

By Jessica Johnson

February 12, 2014

The Plaid Cloth Literary Society will host the fourth African American Read-In on Feb. 19 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., in the conference room on the second floor of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. The event was originally set for today, but was moved because of expected winter weather.

This event is free and open the the public as part of the National African-American Read-In. To participate, simply show up and listen or bring a poem or excerpt from a book or story written by an African-American, to read aloud to the group.

Director of the Mount Airy Museum for Regional History Matthew Edwards said that this is the fourth year the museum has held the program. “It is very well-received each year, and continues to grow. We look forward to this event each February, and invite everyone to come out and participate or listen.”

Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott, a charter member of the Plaid Cloth Literary Society, said members enjoy this event each year, and love to promote reading in the community.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to highlight the written word by African-American writers, so anyone who cares to share can come in and read, or join us to listen. Share your favorite writing — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, anything whatsoever. We get the opportunity to hear these wonderful selections, and sometimes from the viewpoint of other generations. The writing we hear may highlight different techniques and subject matter, from a long time ago, on up to present-day writers.”

February is Black History Month, and the African-American Read-In is held throughout the month of February as a way to document readers making the celebration of African American literature a traditional part of Black History Month.

The Plaid Cloth Literary Society’s African-American Read-In is the only official read-in location in Surry County, according to the NCTE website.

Read-Ins are hosted by schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, community organizations, churches, families, and individuals who are interested in promoting literacy in their communities. Each participant is counted and registered, for the official count, by reporting results through the 2014 African American Read-In Report Card, available on

Popular writers whose works are often read aloud during read-ins held across the country include Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, Lucille Clifton, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Gaines, Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, Harriet Jacobs, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Iyanla Vanzant, Sojourner Truth, and Alice Walker, among others.

The national event is sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English and NCTE, and endorsed by the International Reading Association.

The Plaid Cloth Literary Society is a book club that meets on the second Wednesday of each month in the conference room on the second floor of the museum. Anyone is welcome to join the book club. Scott said that one month they will discuss the book chosen to read, and on the alternate month, they share what they have read during that time or in the past. “We have also been able to do some things like give reading material for the children in the Head Start program. We try to touch the community and foster the love of reading, starting with the very young. Some children haven’t had the opportunity to own their own books. It’s wonderful to be able to give the gift of a love of reading,” Scott shared.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 or on Twitter @MountAiryJess.