(Posted February 20, 2006)

By Ryan Conrad

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Selections from classics of African-American literature will be celebrated by Juniata College students in the 12th annual "Lift Ev'ry Voice" Coffeehouse to celebrate Black History Month at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, in the ballroom of Ellis Hall at Juniata College.

Admission is free, and refreshments will be provided. The program is not appropriate for young children.

"Lift Ev'ry Voice" features dramatic readings of literature by African-American writers, according to Nancy Hayes, a senior from Westminster, Md., who is reading a selection in the event.

"All of us should be aware of our heritage," says Judy Katz, associate professor of English and organizer of the event. "The African-American literary tradition is an essential, profound, and integral part of our literary heritage in America. Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Ellison are as important to our literary tradition as Emerson and Whitman."

The program is a class project for the African-American Literature and World Literatures classes at the college. Students who participate organize all aspects of the production, including reading, developing and publicizing the program, decorating the room and compiling music, and providing refreshments.
The tradition started as an informative poetry reading in the early 1990s. Katz, made "Life Ev'ry Voice" an annual event in 1995.

The one-hour program features readings of poetry, folklore and song lyrics. While producing the event, students become more aware of African-American literature and culture.
Lauren Gates, a junior from Altoona, said her experience with the National African-American Read-In earlier this month inspired her to participate in the Lift Ev'ry Voice program.

"I really enjoyed being able to share the African American writers' great ability of expressing their emotions through their works," Gates says. Other readers include Nuara Siddique, a sophomore from Greenvale, N.Y.; Kazia Eastep, a sophomore from Williamsburg, Pa.; Derek Morris, a sophomore from Bradford Woods, Pa.; Dan Eleuteri, a senior from Ewing, N.J.; Michael Johnson, a junior from Jamaica East, N.Y.; Rachel Meyer, a junior from St. Marys, Pa.; Elaina Clark, a freshman from Clearville, Pa.; Amanda Harris, a junior from Lewisberry, Pa.; Steve Knepper, a senior from Blairs Mills, Pa.; and Morgan Riebel, a junior from Hanover, Pa.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.