“It’s important for all of us to see ourselves in books,” said Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, founder of the African American Read-In.
The 4th annual African American reading — Feb. 7 at the Hesperia branch library — will feature sharing of literary contributions from African Americans, organizers said.
Members of the California Writers Club’s High Desert Branch will host the reading, which they say will feature “black, current, and classic voices.”
The event’s emcee is T. Faye Griffin, three-time NAACP award winner, producer, best-selling author, visual artist, and board member of Arts Connection, the San Bernardino County Arts Council.
During the event, members and guests will read poems, passages or condensed 3-5 minute biographies. Others may sing a song by an African American composer or read a short scene from a play or movie.
This reading will be held in memory of Sandy Armistead, an Apple Valley resident who died last year and who faced racism multiple times since he was born in 1921.
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Part of his life was shared by HDCWC President Dwight Norris, who wrote the 2018 book The Sandy Armistead Story: A Black Man’s Journey into a White Man’s World.
Armistead is a black man whose grandfather was enslaved. He has many great memories and interesting stories to tell. He is happy in his life and content with himself because he had good parents, Norris wrote.
Armistead’s father was a wise man, a good teacher and a supplier as he worked as a machinist for the Ford Motor Company.
Every evening, Armistead’s father dressed for dinner, wearing a coat, tie, and shiny shoes. “He made it special, focused on his kids and made them feel like they were the most important people in the world to him,” Norris said.
Norris shared how Armistead would say that some of what he learned in life he doesn’t see much of in society today.
“I guess we’ll get through this, but it would be nice if we could go back to some of the things that worked not so long ago,” Armistead said.
In an Amazon review of Norris’ book, reader Mike Apodaca wrote, “During this time when Americans are so divided, especially racially, this book is a welcome blessing. It provides authentic insight, not from an ivory tower or a theory, but into the real experiences of a black man in a white man’s world. A must read.”
The National African American Read-In was established in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English to make literacy an important part of Black History Month.
This initiative has reached more than 6 million participants worldwide in a groundbreaking effort to encourage communities to read together, centering African American books and authors.
In the past, HDCWC has had readings from writers such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison. The public can come early to register for a remaining seat to be shared.
The reading is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on February 7 at the Hesperia branch library, located at 9650 Seventh Ave.
For more information about HDCWC, visit hdcwc.com or call (760) 221-6367.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Instagram @RenegadeReporter and Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz