Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Storyteller Eager to Spin Tales of African Folklore for Black History Month

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Storyteller Eager to Spin Tales of African Folklore for Black History Month

Article excerpt

The anansi is a small spider indigenous to West Africa. In African folklore, the spider is a metaphor for the vulnerable who must be quick-witted and swift to outmaneuver their predators, said anansi storyteller Gregory Reed.

Reed will spin his stories at area libraries today and Saturday to commemorate Black History Month.

Anansi stories were assimilated into the African-American culture by slaves who retold the stories using animal characters common to their new surroundings.

Reed said the old stories had educated, challenged and supported social values in an entertaining way for centuries. They appeal to all races and cultures, Reed said, because they deal with universal values.

"If you were to stand up and lecture on friendship, honesty and courage, you'd get a deaf ear. But if you wrap a moral statement in a parable, folks feel a little safer. They can identify with the principles without feeling beat up on," Reed explained.

The St. Charles City-County Library commissioned Reed to tell Anansi and African-American folklore at its branch libraries.

From 7 to 8 p.m. today, Reed will be at the Katherine Linnemann Library, 2323 Elm Street, St. Charles. Reed's Saturday performance schedule is:

10-11 a.m. at the Corporate Parkway Branch, 1200 Corporate Parkway, Wentzville.

1-2 p.m. at the O'Fallon Plaza Library, 130 O'Fallon Plaza, O'Fallon.

3-4 p.m. at the Spencer Road Library, 427 Spencer Road, St. Peters.

St. Charles City-County Library spokeswoman Maggie Preiss said that each branch had a display honoring Black History Month. Reed is a highlight at each branch.

"Mr. Reed offered his services to us because he was interested in black history. We knew he was good because we saw him interviewed on a local cable station last year," Preiss said.

Reed, 48, owns a small office supply and bookstore in East St. Louis. He and his wife, Myrtle Reed, live in the Harvester area of St. Charles and have four children.

Gregory Reed's interest in storytelling began when he was a boy in Minneapolis. Reed's grandfather, Sterling Davis, would tell his grandchildren stories at the dining room table. …

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