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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

SEU celebrates Black History Month with a vast reading collection featuring Black authors, storytellers

Magnolia Westfall / Hilltop Views
Students and staff gather to appreciate the diverse library that St. Edward’s offers.

The Munday Library and the Coalition for Black Faculty and Staff held a reading last week on February 8th, to kick off the celebration of Black History Month. The first ever Black Voices Read-In offered a space for students and faculty to come together and celebrate Black authors. The event was complete with a vast selection of ebooks and audiobooks.

Aneasha Lawrence, the assistant director of admission and the co-leader for the Coalition for Black Faculty and Staff, organized this event with the help of Maggie Bond, the St. Edward’s outreach and programming librarian. Bond selected the books, wanting to highlight a variety of different genres by Black authors. 

Inspiration was in the air as students and faculty approached the mic. Bond read a passage from “Bad Feminist,” a New York Times best seller by Roxane Gay. Communication professor and coalition member Teri Varner, Ph.D, recited a lyric poem by famous author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. With power and grace, Varner delivered the famous poem to the avid listeners. 

“Angelou’s words speak to the heart of the African American experience,” Varner said. “Embodying the resilience and determination that have been necessary for survival and progress. By choosing this poem, I not only honor the struggles and triumphs of Black women throughout history but also offer a beacon of hope and empowerment for all who face adversity.”

Professor Varner reciting “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

Christopher Flynn, a St. Edward’s professor currently teaching a class on African American literature, recited a poem from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Kris Sloan, professor in the division of professional studies, shared his thoughts and inspirations from W. E. B. Dubois’s “The Souls of Black Folk.” Varner also read a poem titled “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman. This was the poem that Gorman recited at the inauguration of President Joe Biden in 2021. Gorman’s words encapsulate the journey towards a more inclusive and just society, acknowledging the challenges while also inspiring a collective movement towards progress, according to Varner. 

“For an African American/Black American female professor, sharing this poem at the Black Voices Read-In event symbolizes a commitment to fostering dialogue around unity, resilience, and the importance of young voices in the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Reading these works at the Black Voices Read-In event, I hoped to bridge generations and provide a platform for reflection on the past, present, and future of the African American experience,” Varner said. “My selection underscores the organization’s mission to amplify Black voices and foster an environment where the richness of Black culture and history is celebrated, and its lessons are woven into the fabric of academic and community life.”

Capri Davis, assistant volleyball coach at St. Edward’s, sat in with the rest of her team. 

“It is incredibly empowering to be surrounded by people who are willing to get up and share the stories of other people who have impacted their lives,” Davis said. “Not even just Black people, the white people who have been able to share their individual experience as well have also been really empowering.” 

This is the very first time St. Edward’s held this event. There are hopes of other events like this in the future to highlight other cultures within the SEU community. 

“I think it’s really important to share our stories,” Davis said. “Especially with critical race theory being taken out of schools you’re just hearing less and less about what it means to be black and hearing the black experience.”

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