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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Reggie Harris, Celebrity Read 2000 Chair at George Washington Carver School, Newark
Reggie Harris, Celebrity Read 2000 Chair at George Washington carver School, Newark, NJ. Photo courtesy United Way of Essex and West Hudson

United Way Celebrity Read

Celebrity Read was established by the United Way of Essex and West Hudson in 1991 as a community-building initiative to diversify the United Way volunteer base while inspiring elementary school children to read, dream, and set and accomplish goals. Recruited from all walks of life, Celebrity Readers travel to local schools where they read a brief passage about the accomplishments of model people of color who have played an important role in American or world history. The Readers also share their own life experiences to instill in the students a sense of pride and hope for the future, emphasizing the importance of education and reading in particular. As one reader said to a class of 7th graders, "They can take away your house, your car, your clothing, and all your money, but no one can take away your knowledge. When you can read something, it becomes yours forever." Originally conceived as a way to celebrate African American History Month, the program was subsequently expanded to include people of other minority descent.

Originally submitted by: Donald M. Payne, Representative (10th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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