Tuesday, February 7, 2012

23rd Annual African-American Read-In

     It was February 5, 2012, and walking across the York College campus in Queens, New York was nostalgic. It was my alma mater, and I hadn't visited in years. To be there that day, and for this event no less, was at best, fulfilling. The Read-In was sponsored by the Queens Chapter of the Links, a organization composed of of concerned business and professional African-American women who are dedicated to providing educational, civic and international activities throughout Queens NY. (www.greaterqueenslinks.com). 
       Present to share their literary works was Cheryl Wills, award winning journalist for NY1 News. She authored Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale, a story about her great-great-great grandfather, Sandy Wills, a runaway slave who joined the fight for freedom in the Civil War. (www.diefreethebook.com)
     Danny Simmons, visual artist and writer is co-founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, and creator and co-executive producer of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. He's the author of Deep in Your Best Reflection, a short collection of poems written to his girlfriend while traveling abroad.  
     Terrie Williams of The Terrie Williams Agency, is one of Ebony Magazine's "Power 150" for Activism. She's an advocate for change and empowerment and founded the Stay Strong Foundation.  Her latest book entitled Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, recounts her personal struggles with depression and the impact of the stigma of mental illness in the African American community. (www.terriewilliams.com)
Along with these notables reading excerpts from their books, there was a duet with author Denis Gray, and his wife Barbara. He sang a medley of negro spirituals while Mrs. Gray did an improv dance routine. The best part of the whole performance was when at the end, I realized Mrs. Gray was my second grade teacher:) Couldn't contain my excitement... 
     The event ended with a Poetry Slam. Gathered at the podium were local poets, most notably, Shirley "Liberatti" Touzin-Diarra from New York, NY. She performed her riveting "Mission Statement" which describes her very reason for being the sought after poet and vocal performer she is known as in the NY poetry and music circuit. (www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=764508372) With vociferace and eloquence, she certainly didn't disappoint and gained a new ear amongst seasoned dignitaries.

     I sitting there as a writer, was even more inspired to really use this pen platform as a means to share not only my experiences, but the experiences of those whose stories I know will impact others because of their honesty and transparency. We all come from a body of experiences, and are all connected. Whatever the means chosen to share, we must share as a duty. Whether it be 1 or 1000, we can positively affect another individual by sharing what's on the inside of us...

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