The Black Student Association kicked of Black History Month with a read-in on Feb. 8 in the orientation room of the Eunice & James L. West Library.

The event featured Arlington author Louie McClain II, who talked about his experience with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, scholarship programs in Liberia, and his most recent project, Melanin Origins LLC, a black-owned global publishing service creating books for kids to share messages of lesser-known African-American pioneers.

Melanin Origins was created in January 2016. Brick by Brick a Snippet of the Life of Booker T. Washington was the first book the company published. Since then, the company has released 13 books, the most recent one being published on Feb. 9.

During his presentation, McClain said that Melanin Origins was created to show children images of people who look like them doing positive things while making history.

Some of these children may not have positive role models at home, but regardless of their situation, the books will show them positive images of African Americans, said McClain.

“We noticed that when kids are learning about black history, the first thing they see is a struggle, some notion of inferiority,” McClain said. “We noticed that positive image of African Americans is not available to kids. We take historical figures of all races, not just black figures, and transform them into children making them more relatable to kids.”

Freshman English major Donovan Ratliff said he came to the event to gather information about the book publishing industry, but instead left with motivation to continue writing his book.

“I have had the desire to become an author ever since I was a freshman in high school,” Ratliff said. “Going into this event, I was ready to receive information solely on publishing books and get some experience in the field. However, I left with motivation, inspiring me to start back on writing a fiction novel I began a year ago.”

Senior psychology major Alisha Haynes said the event helped her learn about authors in the community who are making children their primary audience. She feels that the event would have had a broader audience if it was promoted throughout the entire campus with methods such as email, flyers, and professors informing their students.

“There are several things that I learn from attending the event,” Haynes said. “I enjoyed learning about this young African-American author, but I wish the event would have been promoted better, so that we would have a larger group of people in attendance.”

Louie T. McClain II, founder and CEO of Melanin Origins, reflects on his childhood during his presentation.
Photo by Massaran Kromah

The Black Student Association placed Melanin Origins published books out for the audience to purchase after the presentation.
Photo by Massaran Kromah

Louie T. McClain shows the audience Melanin Origins’ first published book, Brick by Brick A Snippet of the Life of Booker T. Washington.
Photo by Massaran Kromah

Sonja Denise Gaddy, administrative assistant, CETL and QEP, Louie T McClain II and June Johnson, coordinator of circulation, pose for a photo.
Photo by Massaran Kromah

 

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