Participants Share Favorite Works from Black Authors at Read-In [Corrected 02/17/12]

Article excerpt

Estelle Anderson, 89, waited in the snow for two buses and one train Sunday to get to the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on Jefferson Avenue.

There, she and about 25 others took turns reading aloud passages from books by black authors as part of the annual African-American Read-In, held to celebrate Black History Month.

Anderson read an excerpt from "I've Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad," by Karolyn Smardz Frost.

"I'm an old lady, so my grandparents, they were slaves," Anderson said. "People are always giving me books they think I should read. Now that I have more time, I'm reading them."

The Read-In is part of a national event put together by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. More than 1 million people participated nationally.

The local event was put together by Sharon and Kenneth Holley in conjunction with Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western New York.

"It's a very different feeling reading alone and reading aloud to a group," said Sharon Holley. "It gets people interested in books and authors they might not pick up themselves."

Genres varied -- historical fiction, scholarly articles, young adult literature, poetry.

"Knowledge is power," said Shirley Sarmiento, an author from Buffalo. "Reading connects people across lines and without racism."

Lois Young read the story "Hams and Turkeys," by Billie Mitchell, from the book "Keeping the Faith," by Tavis Smiley.

It recounts the time a community leader tried to talk black activists out of marching for civil rights by bribing them with free hams and turkeys. …