KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Actor Taye Diggs was in Kansas City on Saturday along with local author, Shane W. Evans, for Literacy KC’s ‘Let’s Read!’ event.
FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt spoke to the pair about the importance of representation and strong, positive role models for people of color.
“As fathers ourselves, we realize the importance of this, and we are very excited to come spread the word, and help in any way,” Diggs said.
Hundreds of kids came to the event, along with parents, teachers, librarians, and supporters. Diggs and Evans spent time with them signing books, and saying hello. They put together three books together discussing issues of race and representation.
“We want them to have a good time,” Diggs said. “Obviously, we want them to be inspired to read, but it’s kind of an energy thing, and whatever anybody takes from it – we’ll accept that.”
“It’s just magical to see an author, to see an illustrator, right in front of you,” Literacy KC executive director, Gillian Helm, said. “Especially someone so magical, and so artistic, and creative as Taye and Shane. To have them here in front of them is just a special opportunity for kids.”
The pair read their book, Chocolate Me. It discusses blackness, rejection among childhood friends, and finding beauty in your own skin.
“The importance of things like friendships, and relationship to me is vital,” Evans said. “Recognizing that this happened to a friend, and recognizing that it could happen to others, was the moment of recognizing the importance of it.”
“I think it’s important for all people alike to be able to relate to the characters they’re reading about,” Diggs said. “Simply because, they can see themselves, and it gives them – it’s almost like a mirror effect, it’s much easier to kind of understand and relate to characters that have similarities to ourselves.”
Parents and kids listened to their stories and saw celebrities as new friends. Kids like Romero Campbell who didn’t know who Diggs was, but was excited once his teacher told him he was meeting someone famous. Campbell says meeting them was a great experience.
“They were super kind, and nice, and I asked them questions,” Campbell said.
“I hope that they took away that you can do and be whatever you want,” Romero’s mom, Xavier Campbell said. “Whatever you set your dreams to, and you’re hearts to. Whatever superhero you want to be you can be that.”
Literacy KC said their organization works to advance literacy skills to increase lifelong success for families in the area. They say having Diggs and Evans visit helps shine a light on what they do in the community.