Richmond Public Library’s Black Emergent Readers Literacy Program (BMER) is offering an evening of meeting local authors at the Main Richmond Public Library on Feb. 17, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
BMER will honor some of the most prolific black authors in the area in celebration of Black History Month. The program is highlighted by a discussion led by Clarence McGill, a Richmander, who was one of eight black football players that boycotted the 1970 football season at Syracuse University.
McGill was a contributing writer in Leveling the Playing Field: The Story of the Syracuse 8 written by David Marc, as he rendered his memories of the events that took place before the ultimate decision to boycott. The topic of discussion for the evening will be if there is a change in direction within the struggle?
“Basically I am comparing our (Syracuse 8) first civil disobedience event ever in the country in terms of athletics to the 2015 University of Missouri boycott,” McGill said. “I hope that I can lead that into leadership and to expose the community into the African-American authors in our are and the quality of their work.”
Many similarities can be compared to the Missouri football team from McGill’s Syracuse team back in 1970. One of the key issues facing the black SU players was the inability to gain a meaningful degree. That is a degree that would be deemed as honorable coming from such a prestigious university.
“All the black kids that came in as freshman were led to pursue a general education degree, which led you nowhere,” McGill said. “So what I did to get around it, was take my card to register for classes, would fill out my information to the advisers in pencil, then would go back and change it to what I wanted.”
This is the battle the players had to endure in order to gain their full academic privilege. Meldon Jenkins-Jones, Master of Science in library information systems, is organizing the event to give young readers empowering texts that motivate them to read.
“The basic underlying idea is to give kids reading material they find interesting or relevant to their experiences,” Jenkins-Jones said. “Enabling texts that appeal to the young men’s sense of social justice, their higher human concern.”
VCU students are urged to attend this event, to gain a better understanding of the civil injustices that were infinitely prevalent in the lives of college students of previous generations. Understanding the history behind the struggle and fight for students to be capable of fulfilling their full edification of learning.
“The opportunity to expose the struggles, differences and similarities between the civil disobedience protests in the late 60’s and the civil disobedience today at VCU or Missouri,” McGill said. “Also the historical aspect that students might not know in terms of personal, first hand accounts of events.”
Sports Editor, Bryant Drayton
Bryant is a sports advocate who’s always smiling. He is a senior print and online journalism major aspiring for a career as a professional or college football columnist. Bryant currently covers high school football games for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn