What’s a better way to celebrate Black History Month than with a new book? I’ve compiled a list of some of the best contemporary novels either written by black authors or about black history. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite read!
JSU concluded its celebration of Black History Month with a banquet in Leon Cole Auditorium on Tuesday, February 27. The banquet was well attended by a diverse group of students, faculty, community members and special guests. The event was planned and organized by JSU Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the SGA.
The evening began with a moving performance by the JSU Gospel Choir. Afterwards, Breon Moore, Vice President of Student Government Association and Master of Ceremonies set the tone for the evening by saying, “This evening we will appreciate the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.”
After Moore’s opening remarks President John M. Beehler gave a short speech on the importance of diversity.
“At JSU we strive for excellence in all that we do, including diversity and inclusion. Every organization at JSU is better and makes better decisions if it includes all people from all races, colors, creeds and nations,” said Beehler.
After Beehler’s short speech, President of Alpha Phi Alpha, Xi Xi Chapter, Khiry Smith presented Black History through the spoken word. The performance included a few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dinner and entertainment for the evening included a buffet style meal featuring soul food classics like fried chicken, ribs, macaroni and cheese and collard greens. Accompanying dinner was a fashion show by Forever Young Modeling Troupe.
After dinner the highlight of the evening began as Dr. Heidi Louisy presented the 2018 Celebration of Hidden Figures. The Hidden Figure awards are a celebration of individuals currently working at JSU who contribute to the university’s growth in diversity.
Among those awarded this year included: Tracy Broom, Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator; Vinson Houston, Chief Information Officer; Cleo Lemon, Gamecocks Wide Receivers Coach; Sandra Sudduth, former instructor at JSU and current member of the Regional Medical Center Board of Directors and councilwoman for the City of Jacksonville; and Earl Warren, director of institutional development.
Following the presentation of awards, WBRC Fox 6 News Reporter and JSU alumni Jeh Jeh Pruitt gave an inspiring presentation as the event’s official keynote speaker. During Pruitt’s presentation, he spoke of the African concept “Ubuntu” meaning, “I am who I am because of who we all are.”
“We have to help each other to succeed in order for this life to be what it is,” said Pruitt. “Remember the word ‘Ubuntu’ and what it means and how you can help someone. And how it takes a village for someone to be successful. I don’t know about you, but I think Jacksonville State University is that village. I think that JSU knows the concept of Ubuntu.”
The evening concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Louisy who, along with JSU Diversity and Inclusion Committee, helped plan and organize the event.
Five books sat posed on the stage that sits in the Children’s Corner of Houston Cole Library.
Every Tuesday is storytime in the Corner and librarian Laurie Heathcock says that although it’s a new thing, she hopes it will take off soon.
“We just finished the Children’s Corner not too long ago,” Heathcock said. “It’s a great chance for both the JSU students to read and the children who are read to.”
JSU students can volunteer or be invited to read to the children each week. Heathcock says Cocky has made a visit with the cheerleaders and that the JSU soccer and softball teams are scheduled to make an appearance.
Sophomore Amari Pearson made her second visit to the Children’s Corner for the special Black History Month reading.
“I got involved because I like kids,” Pearson said. “Kids like to find people that they can look up to, and when people read to them they can learn.”
Both Heathcock and Pearson took turns reading the four loose biographies and West African legend that made the book list for the week.
Heathcock says she has other special events scheduled for the children’s corner including a bilingual storytime in March. She says there will be movies in Spanish and English as well as readings.
“Children have so much distraction with technology now,” Heathcock said. “It’s important for children to not just read but to be read to. It helps with vocabulary and social skills and imagination. Plus I learn a lot from the books too.”
For Pearson it’s about helping to expose children to different cultures and ideas.
“It’s all part of history,” She said. “What got us here, different cultures and people. It keeps up realizing where we came from and why we’re all here.”
Find all the stories at the Black History Month storytime below:
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves Deputy, US Marshal by Vaunda Nelson
This biography tells the true story of Bass Reeves a former slave who became a deputy US Marshal and remained one for 32 years.
Ananse and the Lizard by Pat Cummings
A West African legend about a spider named Ananse who seeks to become chief by learning the name of the chief’s daughter in order to marry her. When he accidentally discovers the name, he shares it with a lizard only to be betrayed.
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
A biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and the words that he used from when he was young to when he became a minister and changed the world for the people that followed him.
Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio
A loose biography of musician Jimi Hendrix as he grew up in the boarding house drawing and learning how to play music.
Barack Obama: Son of Promise Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes
Young David sees a video of Barack Obama and asks his mother who he is. His mother spins a tale of the life of Barack Obama from his beginnings in Hawaii as Barry to his presidency in the present.