Renita Hunt is an empowerment speaker and marketing communications executive. Her robust corporate marketing career began as a library page at 14 years old. She holds an MBA from University of Phoenix and a BA in Public Relations from Clark Atlanta University. Renita has been emceeing the African American Read-In at Orange County Library System every year since 2016. We caught up with her to discuss her participation in the annual event.
Can you talk about your history with the African American Read-In?
I have emceed the African American Read-In every year since it began. My mother, Jacquelyn Shields, first had the vision to bring the event to the Orange County Library System. I worked with her on the planning committee that founded the event. My first year, I was a co-emcee, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Why is Read-In important to you? What do you hope our community gets out of it?
It’s important to me on many levels, as an avid reader, the child of an educator and as a former library page. I love the light it shines on African American authors, black heritage and the importance of reading. My hope is that each year attendees learn more about the diversity of Black authors and Black cultural stories, as well as the importance of plugging into the local library for relevant and engaging cultural events.
What has been your favorite part about (or favorite moment) emceeing the African American Read-In at OCLS?
Over the past six years, there have been so many good moments I’ve gotten to experience. I really enjoyed seeing the Sigma Step team perform and when Denzel Dejournette read Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut. The African drummers are always a big hit as well. But having Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, join us virtually in 2020 was the biggest moment yet. What an honor to hear from the first African American to lead the national library!
If someone is reading this, trying to decide if they should attend the Read-In, what would you say to them?
Attending the Read-In is a great way to celebrate African American culture during Black History Month, and it’s relevant to people of all ages! It’s a unique cultural experience where you can learn the stories of the past, engage with black artistry and be exposed to new, local African American authors.
Do you have any reading recommendations for our library patrons?
I truly believe the power to success lies in what you are reading. Three of my favorite books are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Roots by Alex Haley.