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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Q5: Read-In celebrates African-American history

  • Carmen Elston is the event chair for the 24th Annual National African American Read-In. Carmen joined Delta Sigma Theta in 2007 in the Republic of Korea Chapter (Seoul, Korea).
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  • Carmen Elston is the event chair for the 24th Annual National African American Read-In. Carmen joined Delta Sigma Theta in 2007 in the Republic of Korea Chapter (Seoul, Korea).
    1. Can you tell us about the Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and why they are hosting the 24th Annual National African American Read-In at 2 p.m., Feb. 10 at the Richard Allen Cultural Center in honor of Black History month?
    Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter, the local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was chartered in 1989 to provide quality community service and programming in the Leavenworth/Lansing area.
    The Chapter's mission is to make a difference in the lives of people in the local communities through education, service, scholarship, and social action programs. We decided to host the Read-In because we thought it was another way that we could positively influence the community's observance of Black History Month. The Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum is filled with the history of Black people in Leavenworth and the state of Kansas. It was only fitting that the event be held there.
    We are hosting a book drive during the Read-In, and we would like people to donate gently used children's books. Last year we donated the books to the Youth Achievement Center, this year they will be donated to a local childcare center.
    Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter will be hosting our annual Evening of Distinction on April 20, 2013, this charity event benefits our chapter's scholarship fund.
    We award scholarships to a deserving Leavenworth and Lansing High School student each year.
    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. was founded on Jan. 13, 1913, by 22 courageous women on the campus of Howard University in Washington D.C.
    The sorority began celebrating 100 years of service and sisterhood on Jan. 1, 2013, with a float in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade, it also marks the first time any Black Greek letter organization featured a float in the parade.
    Delta Sigma Theta is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world.
    A sisterhood of more than 250,000 predominately black college educated women, the sorority currently has more than 900 chapters throughout the world.
    For more information regarding the Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the programs the chapter offers in the community please visit our website www.dstlvksalumnae.org email the chapter at dstlvksalumnae@aol.com or contact Renee Wilson, chapter president at 904-419-9746.
    2. When was the first Read-In and how did it get started? What sorts of readers have participated in the event in the past?
    The National African American Read-In is sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. The first Read-In, held in 1990, began as a "chain" of about 5,000 readers nationwide reading works by African American writers at the same time on the same day. In 1991 the Read-In gained support of the National Council of Teachers of English as a whole and was endorsed by the International Reading Association.
    Page 2 of 2 - Today, the event is observed my many ethnic groups around the world with well over a million readers. Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter hosted its first Read-In in 2012. The nine readers, ranged from age 7 to over 60 and read works from Sojourner Truth, James Weldon Johnson and Useni Perkins just to name a few. The community supported the event and we hope the event will be well-received again this year.
    3. What is the goal of the Read-In?
    The main goal of the Read-In is to make African American literacy and literature a traditional part of celebrating Black History Month.
    4. The 2013 Read-In theme is Harlem Renaissance authors and poets. Who are some of the writers whose work will be read and why have they been so important to black history?
    This year we expect to hear literature from Langston Hughes, Jessie Faucet, and Zora Hurston. Many of the writers during the era that's now known as the Harlem Renaissance didn't write just for the sake of writing.
    They wrote because their words were a way of addressing the social and political issues of the time.
    They wrote because their children needed to hear the voice of someone who looked like them.
    5. What are the most important lessons that Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hopes people will take away from the Read-In about the richness and importance of black history?
    African American literature is not always incorporated in schools' curricula. We hope we expose students to this part of the American history and spark interests to seek out this literature regularly.
    — Rimsie McConiga

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