Virtual African American Read-In 2021

VIRTUAL GALLERY PROGRAM | African American Read-In Day 1
Thu, Feb 4 | 6–7 pm
Free, Zoom registration required

Procession, 2020, Odili Donald Odita, (American, born Nigeria 1966), acrylic latex matte/flat wall paint, acrylic soft gel medium, varnish. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund

Literature and fine arts come together with the African American Read-In at VMFA. See and hear notable figures from the greater Richmond community as they lend their voices in prose and poetry readings. In this powerful display of storytelling, experience evocative and poignant pairings of works by African American artists and authors.

To adapt to ongoing safety concerns related to COVID-19, VMFA will host this year’s AARI event virtually over the span of four weeks. Tune in weekly to hear from community leaders and curators about works in the VMFA collection and the connections that can be made to literature. Please note: registration is required for each date of the event.

VMFA’s African American Read-In  is Presented by:

Day 1 speakers:

Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, VMFA

Dr. Carmenita Higginbotham, Dean, VCUarts is an art historian whose research examines 20th-century American art, and how notions of “the city” have had an impact on representation. She has lectured extensively on the history of American Art, popular visual culture, and art film. Her book, The Urban Scene: Race, Reginald Marsh and American Art (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015), offers a significant and innovative reassessment of the ways in which race is deployed and read in interwar American art. Higginbotham is the dean of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and special assistant to the provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar.

Dr. Hermine Pinson, Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of English & Africana Studies

Dr. Pinson has published three poetry collections and two CD’s, one in special collaboration with Pulitzer prize–winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa. She has performed her poetry and lectured in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Pinson’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. She teaches English, creative writing, and African American literature at William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

For further, related reading, the book Homegoing (2016) by Yaa Gyasi is suggested.


VIRTUAL GALLERY PROGRAM | African American Read-In Day 2
Thu, Feb 11 | 6–6:30 pm
Free, Zoom registration required

Untitled (Black Boy Smoking a Cigarette), 1935, James W.O. Thompson (American, active 1905–1930s), oil on board. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, John Barton Payne Fund

Day 2 speakers:

Dr. Christopher Oliver, Assistant Curator of American Art, VMFA

Colette McEachin, Richmond City Commonwealth’s Attorney, is the first woman and the first African American woman ever elected Richmond commonwealth’s attorney. She has worked in that office for over twenty years. Prior to her election she was the deputy commonwealth’s attorney responsible for supervising prosecutors in the General District Courtrooms that handled misdemeanor crimes, felony preliminary hearings, and traffic cases.

McEachin graduated from Brown University and received her JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of various bar associations, including the Virginia State Bar, the Richmond Criminal Bar, and the Hill-Tucker Bar Association. Currently a member and formerly the chair of both the Virginia Forensic Science Board and the Criminal Law Section of the Virginia State Bar, McEachin was a member of the Hill-Tucker Bar Association’s Executive Board. She serves on the faculty for the Virginia Supreme Court’s Professionalism Course, which is mandatory for all new attorneys. She is a member of the state Maternal Mortality Review Team, the Virginia Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Task Force, and the Richmond Mayor’s Task Force on Re-imagining Public Safety. She is currently on the Board of NextUp RVA, which organizes after-school programs in all Richmond public middle schools


VIRTUAL GALLERY PROGRAM | African American Read-In Day 3
*Date changed due to inclement weather*
Dr. Julian Hayter and Dr. Sarah Eckhardt will present on February 25 at 6pm.
Free, Zoom registration required

Blocks and Strips, 2003, Ruth Kennedy (American, born 1926), corduroy. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund and partial gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection

Day 3 speakers:

Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, VMFA

Dr. Julian Hayter, associate professor of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, is a historian whose research focuses on modern US history, American political development, African American history, and the American civil rights movement. He is the author of The Dream is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia. His work has been published in the Journal of Policy History and Richmond Journal of Law and Public Interest. He also contributes to national and local media outlets.

VIRTUAL GALLERY PROGRAM | African American Read-In Day 4
Thu, Feb 25 | 6–6:30 pm
Free, Zoom registration required

L: Blues Singer, 1938, Louise E. Jefferson (American, 1908–2002), lithograph on cream wove paper, rives paper. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
R: Blues Singer I, ca. 1952, Charles Alston (American, 1907–1977), oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Art, J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art and Revolving Art Purchase Fund

Dr. Leo Mazow, Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art, VMFA

Marc Cheatham is a creator of The Cheats Movement, a multi-media platform that celebrates the Richmond region as a hub for music, art, culture, and diversity. The Cheats Movement has been voted one of the best independent media platforms in Richmond, and Marc has become one of the leading voices for Richmond’s hip-hop community. In 2018, Marc transformed his popular podcast into a radio show which airs biweekly on WRIR 97.3 FM. Marc also serves as director of Constituent Services and Casework for US Senator Tim Kaine. He is married to Aria Cheatham and they have a six-year-old son named Cameron.

For further, related reading, Blues Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series) by Kevin Young (2003) is suggested.


More about African American Read-In

During the month of February, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting an African American Read-In. Sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and NCTE, and endorsed by the International Literacy Association, the goal the Read-In is to document readers making a celebration of African American literacy.