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African American Read-In educates youth, celebrates Black history

JESSICA NGBOR | 3/27/2017, 8:29 a.m.
African American Read-Ins were held at Black-owned McDonald’s restaurants last month in honor of Black History Month.
Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, president of Cedar Valley College, interacts with young readers during the African American Read-In, Feb. 25. Jessica Ngbor

The Dallas Examiner

African American Read-Ins were held at Black-owned McDonald’s restaurants last month in honor of Black History Month.

Presented by McDonald’s of Greater North Texas and the Dallas Chapter of Continental Societies Inc. each Saturday in February, the read-ins were designed to promote reading and literature in the African American community. Community leaders from different background and careers read to the children each week.

“This particular project in regards to Black History Month is genius. Definitely superseded my expectations,” said Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, president of Cedar Valley College.

The final read-in was held at the restaurant on Lancaster Road, Feb. 25. One of the first readers was Brenda Robertson, head librarian at the University of Texas at Dallas. She read You Can Do It! by Tony Dungy. The book focuses on Dungy’s little brother Linden when he was in the third grade. Linden is unmotivated because he has not found his talent, but it appears everyone in his family found theirs. Dungy and his parents encourage Linden to have faith and dream big, which helps him realize that he can do anything he sets his mind to. After a visit with Clarke and realizing that he loves to see people happy, he becomes inspired to become a dentist.

“When you make people feel good they smile, and that’s why I wanted to be a dentist,” Clarke said.

Robertson later asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some said they wanted to be a teacher, dancer, doctor or lawyer.

H. Ron White, managing partner at White Wiggins, LLP, read When I am Old with You by Angela Johnson. The book focused on experiences that a child shared with his granddad.

White ask the children in the audience if they spent time with their grandfather. One child talked about how he and his grandfather grow fruit together and how he helps his grandfather garden. Another child talked about going to the park with their grandfather. Each time one of the child answered White’s question, he gifted them with a coloring book featuring famous African American inventors, scientists and activists.

White emphasized the importance of the children spending time and getting to know their fathers and grandfathers.

Dallas Officer Soo-Nam read Beautiful Moon – A Child’s Prayer by Tanya Bolden. The book celebrated prayer and was centered on a boy who prayed every night for the world, focusing on the hungry and homeless.

The last reader of the afternoon was Seabrooks, who recited rap lyrics from one of his favorite songs growing up, You Must Learn by Boogie Down Productions. He chose to do this because he felt that there were different learning styles, and sometimes that doesn’t always get acknowledged.

“As a young person I wasn’t crazy about reading. It was music and its form that got me excited about reading, Seabrooks said. “Music is a form of literature that can be tied into history.”

At the close of the event, the children were gifted with Happy Meals as well as backpacks filled with schools supplies and a book. They also had an opportunity to take pictures with the readers.