Actors, Scholars Share African-American History With South Coast University's Online Reading Project

Sep 14, 2020

An ambitious project at a South Coast university is trying to help us learn more about African American history, through an online read-a-thon featuring a number of scholars, plus Hollywood and Broadway stars.

Actresses Phylicia Rashad and Yvette Nicole Brown are among the nearly three dozen performers taking part in the Cal State Channel Islands “Read-In” Series.  CSUCI lecturer MiRi Park is producing the project with assistance from professor Heather Castillo.

The book is W.E.B. Du Bois’ “Black Reconstruction In America.”   Park says the 700 plus page book was published in the 1930's, but is still remarkably relevant today.   Some of the actors recording segments of the book include Tamara Tunie, Merle Dandridge, Jesse L. Martin, and Michael McElroy, as well as cast members from the Broadway and national touring companies of “Hamilton,” “Rent,”  and  “Book of Mormon." 

Park says what’s taught in our schools doesn’t tell the real or full story of the black experience in America.  She says she listened the book during her regular commutes from Ventura County to Los Angeles.  It led to her idea to turn it into an online read-a-thon, a modern day version of the 1960’s read-ins students would hold on college campuses.

The project breaks the book down into chapters, with new installments going online every Friday from now until Election Day.  Park says one of the big things the book highlights is how the Union needed black Americans to win the Civil War, and rebuild the nation afterwards.

You can find the "Read-In Series” at: thereadinseries.com