CASAA to Sponsor The African-American Read-In Featuring Readings by Black Playwrights 

By Dan DiPrinzio | January 12, 2024

The Center for Anti-Racist Scholarship, Advocacy, and Action (CASAA) is sponsoring The African-American Read-In at Noon on Feb. 1 in the Rose Room at Grey Towers Castle. 

This year’s theme will focus on African-American Theater. 

All interested students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to join and read a selection of no more than five minutes (preferably a monologue) written by an African-American playwright. 

Anyone interested in speaking at the read-in should contact Ms. Deja Edwards at with your name and the title of your selection if you are interested in participating.

The National African-American Read-In was developed in the early 1990s by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English, which was dedicated to ensuring Black literature had its place in Black History Month. We participate in this important tradition here at Arcadia University, focusing each year’s event around a specific theme relevant to the time. 

Theater during the early twentieth century solidified stereotypes that persist today due to its entertainment and monetary value. The audience at the time wanted to see the life of African Americans as comedic (what Sterling A. Brown referred to as “the comic Negro”), thus thrusting many African-American actors into stifling roles that dehumanized and mocked them. These roles often depicted African-American actors in subservient roles like maids or butlers. This was certainly the case for Hattie McDaniels, who won an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind in 1940, where she plays a mammy figure who advises Scarlett O’Hara’s character throughout the movie. Despite the film’s success, McDaniels was criticized for the role, seen as perpetuating the very stereotypes that limited African-American socioeconomic mobility in the United States. McDaniels, who was only given roles that showed the one dimension of the Black experience, responded to critics by stating, “I’d rather play a maid than be a maid.”