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February 11, 2013

Event celebrates black authors

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Participants at the local contribution to a nationwide event had the opportunity to share important works by black authors.

The Oneonta branch of the NAACP hosted the African-American Read-In at the Olympia Brown House.

The program has been held for more than 10 years as part of the nationwide read-in sponsored by the National Council of English Teachers, NAACP assistant secretary Joanne Fisher said. She led the local activity. It is an opportunity for participants to share the words of black authors of all kinds, she said.

The offerings by Oneonta-based readers were diverse at Sunday’s two-hour afternoon program.

When someone reads a passage, it can create a discussion, Fisher said. That was the case when her husband, NAACP President Lee Fisher, read a closing passage from “Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela,” in which Mandela reflects on the struggle that led him from decades in prison to see the end of apartheid and become president South Africa.

Growing up as part of a tribe’ “it was only when I learned my freedom was an illusion that I began to hunger for it,” he said. “After climbing a great hill, one finds there are many more hills to climb.”

Mandela’s experience didn’t make him “bitter,” Fisher said, “It made him better.” After almost 25 years in jail, he still had the drive to preserve.

Alice Siegfried, who read two poems by Langston Hughes, said, “with freedom comes responsibility.”

Essie Harding read the book, “Shouting” by Joyce Carol Thomas, as something on the lighter side, she said. Using illustrations by Annie Lee, it is a story of a woman remembering going to church with her mother as a young girl.

“It’s a fun book,” that Harding said she could relate to.