Celebrating Black Voices in Literature Classes at South

By Stephanie Huynh | Contributor

Photo by: Andrew Bryant

The English Department held the Celebration of Black Voices on Feb. 9, aimed to highlight as many black authors as deemed possible and timely to effectively celebrate Black History Month.

Students and faculty were invited to the Archaeology Museum on campus to listen to instructors from the English department discuss their experiences with literature written by African American authors. Afterward, attendees and speakers mingled and Cajun-style cuisine was provided by Aramark.

Most of the speakers outlined their class structures and read snippets of the African American literature that they use during their own instruction. According to the speakers, brainstorming new ways to conduct classes with a basis in African American literature is easier with everybody working towards the same goal of effortless inclusivity. There are also classes that focus solely on African American literature and poetry.

During the event, a few poems written by African Americans were mentioned as examples of the works that are analyzed in classes on campus. These included “the mother” by Gwendolyn Brooks and “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

Brooks’ “the mother” addresses the struggle that comes with abortion. It was written in 1945, 28 years before the U.S. case of Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. It discusses the overwhelming mixture of emotions that a mother can feel before, during and after an abortion.

Angelou’s “Still I Rise”’ is likely the more-known poem of the two, and it puts into words the resilience of the African American community that has endured centuries of unwarranted discrimination and violence.

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