Spoken word poet encourages three young girls to participate in her performance

Read-in celebrates African-American girls, literacy

When young African-American girls and their parents arrived at the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), they were greeted with pink and black balloons and a table of books by and about women of color: “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, “Dancing in the Wings” by Debbie Allen, “One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia, just to name a few.

Alpha Upsilon Alpha, Georgia State University’s literacy honor society, partnered with the college’s Urban Literacy Clinic and Collaborative to host Black Girls Read, a day of interactive and multimodal activities for Pre-K through 12th grade students, author readings and spoken word and musical performances that encouraged African-American girls to embrace their own voices and Black women’s literary histories.

“As an African-American woman with an African-American daughter and who has taught countless African-American girls in the classroom, it’s important to me to take the time to expose the African-American girls in my life to culturally-relevant texts that counter the narrative present in many U.S. schools and the media,” said Charity Gordon, president of Alpha Upsilon Alpha and a CEHD doctoral student. “I have had mentors who took the time to expose me to powerful texts that changed my life, and it’s important to me that I pay it forward.”

Assistant Professor Gholnecsar Muhammad, who directs the college’s Urban Literacy Clinic and Collaborative and has conducted research on African-American female literacy development, said she was excited to collaborate with members of the honor society.

“Given the current misrepresentations and assaults on Black girl bodies in and out of school, we thought it was time to center Black girls’ literacies and Black girls’ ways of knowing,” she said. “Also, there has been a recent surge of energies around research and programming for Black girls’ education across the country, so we knew this would be a timely event. From my research, I have found that Black girls’ literacies and pedagogies lay out an excellent roadmap and framework for all youth.”

Speakers who presented at Black Girls Read shared their own stories, talked about the authors who inspired them and reminded the girls that they, too, can become great writers.

“I feel like I was a little late to the party. But you guys are right on time,” said spoken word poet Qiana Cutts when she started learning about African-American authors in high school. “What a time to be alive – and to be a girl and be black.”

For more information about the Urban Literacy Clinic and Collaborative, visit http://literacyclinic.education.gsu.edu.

To view photos from this event, click here.