OLEAN — Poetry by notable black writers will be read at a Feb. 25 rally at the Olean Public Library in honor of Black History Month.
The event, organized by the Twin Tiers Writers’ Group, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at the North Second Street Library and is free and open to the public, Olean’s Dr. Beverly Twitty-Terrien said.
“All are welcome to attend, and refreshments will be served,” said Twitty-Terrien, noting that Helen Ruggieri of the writers’ group will help organize the session.
Another member of the writers’ group, Ola Mae Gayton, said she plans to read poetry by the late Richard Wright, who is defined as a pioneering African-American writer best known for the classic texts “Black Boy” and ” Native Son”. ”
“It’s a celebration of black writers, and we’re asking people to come join us at Olean Library,” Gayton said. “We’re asking them to share their favorite poems by a black artist.”
Original writings from local African Americans are also welcome. The number of readings presented by each individual will depend on the number of participants, Gayton said, adding that young people are encouraged to participate.
The event was held last year at the library, but attendance was low. Gayton hopes there will be more attendees this year reading about multiple periods of history.
THE EVENT will precede other African American Heritage Weekend activities in the community. After the poem readings, the public is invited to watch a film, “Selma Lord Selma,” at 6 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 109 S. Barry St. The Disney-produced film was chosen because organizers felt it was appropriate for children 10 years and older, but relevant for adults.
The Reverend Kim Rossi, Rector of St. Stephen’s, noted that the film is based on a true story and is set in 1965 during the turbulent early days of the suffrage movement. A guest moderator will discuss the events depicted in the film before the film begins, then engage in conversation and discussion after the screening. Refreshments will be served after the film.
Activities will continue Feb. 26 when the African American Center for Cultural Development at 1801 W. State St. hosts a 2:30 p.m. roundtable with locals. The discussion will be followed by worship at 3:30 p.m.
The theme of the round table will be “Racism, past and present”. Panelists will share personal stories of growing up in various parts of the country during the 1950s and 1960s and their perspective on current events in the country. A question-and-answer session will follow.
Worship will include music, prayers, scripture readings and reflections. Refreshments will be served afterwards.
The community can also attend a Black History Month event at 3 p.m. on February 19 at the African American Center’s Café Afrique. Della Moore will give a presentation titled “African American Films” which covers notable black actors and films released during the “blaxploitation” era.
The event is also free and will include refreshments for visitors. Donations will be accepted to help with the general costs of the center.