Montgomery County Community College is one of 49 libraries from across the country that will be celebrating African American poetry, thanks to a new national grant obtained by two MCCC faculty members.
The Lift Every Voice program’s objective is to engage participants in a multifaceted exploration of African American poetry, the perspectives it offers on American history and the struggle for racial justice, and the universality of its imaginative response to the personal experiences of black Americans over three centuries, according to its website.
The program, won by MCCC English Associate Professor Dr. Fran Lassiter and Student Success Librarian Amanda M. Leftwich, is part of a national public humanities initiative dedicated to enhancing appreciation of the extraordinary range and richness of the 250-year-long African American poetic tradition, according to its website.
“The College already offers an African American literature course,” said Leftwich, “so I was sure we would win this grant and we will use it well.”
Students already appreciate African American poetry, she said, and this new program will provide a more cohesive experience for them.
“This is the first event the Library of America is doing of this type,” said Lassiter, “but there are other grants out there like this. We’re hoping this will be an annual event, and it will generate enough interest to do this each year.”
A total of $58,800 was awarded to public libraries and other institutions. Each institution received a $1,200 stipend to support public programs centered on a core selection of poems that illustrate five humanities themes at the heart of the project.
MCCC will use the grant to host a series of public online events, beginning with “Black History and Memory: A Discussion on Black Diasporic Poetry,” on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Register for the online event here.
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