(Posted February 18, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, PA. -- "Lift Ev'ry Voice," a program of readings from African-American poetry and literature, will be held at Juniata College as part of Black History Month at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, in the ballroom of Ellis College Center on the Juniata campus.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided during the program.

"Lift Ev'ry Voice" celebrates literature written by African-American authors. Students are invited to perform a work that has a special meaning to them. Alcione Frederick, a sophomore from Huntingdon, will be reading poems by Mari Evans and Essex Hemphill. She chose these works because she "can relate to them and they evoke emotions, which make them easier and better to perform." Jennifer John, a sophomore from East Swanzey, N.H., will be reading "Girl," a prose poem written by Jamaica Kincaid. She chose this work because she felt it had particular relevance to class discussions about colonization. Students also will be reading works by authors such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, James Weldon Johnson, Nikki Giovanni and others.

The program is entirely produced by students. According to Judy Katz, associate professor of English and coordinator of Lift Ev'ry Voice, "Students take charge of everything that needs to be done: programming, publicity, articles and flyers, rehearsals. The program reflects their commitment as much as mine.
Katz believes the event is meaningful for the performers as well as the audience. "The African-American literary tradition is a profound and dynamic part of our literary heritage in America -- but it has often been ignored," she says. "This program is a way to recognize and celebrate African American writers and their amazing and enduring contributions to American literature. And it gives the audience a chance to hear some extraordinary literature."

The name of the program, "Lift Ev'ry Voice," comes from the poem and song composed by James Weldon Johnson in 1900. The song has strong meaning in the African-American community and has been adopted as the "Negro National Anthem." The event is co-sponsored by UCJC (United Cultures of Juniata College), AWOL (Alternate Ways of Loving), and the English Club.

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