Students at Buffalo's Waterfront School celebrate MLK Readers are Leaders

Feb 7, 2019

Students at a Buffalo Public School hosted a celebration Thursday morning, marking their participation in a statewide program that promotes literacy by distributing books focusing on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The program in which the students participated is known as Readers are Leaders, created 15 years ago by the New York State Governor's Office with the assistance of Buffalo's Project Flight, which works to improve literacy and, in turn, improve educational results among students.

Students at the Waterfront School in Buffalo perform a "MLK Rap" as part of their celebration of MLK Readers are Leaders, a program which provides books about the slain civil rights leader to promote literacy and educational improvement.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"The governor's office contacted Project Flight and asked, because we were big in literacy, what could they do across the state to promote literacy in honor of Martin Luther King," said Dr. Betty Capella, who is also a professor at Buffalo State College. "We came up with a program, Readers are Leaders."

In the 15 years of Readers are Leaders, an estimated 350,000 books have been distributed to more than 30 Western New York Schools.

Many students, Dr. Capella notes, live in homes where they may not necessarily have the financial means to acquire books.

"If you do a series of surveys, which we did, the only reading material you might find in many homes is the Holy Bible, the Quran or what they read off the cereal boxes," she said. "They can't afford a book, especially if it's (a choice) between a book and a loaf of bread."

This year, Waterfront School received an estimated 2,500 books, grade-appropriate for the respective classes within the school.

The celebrations included music, recitals and even an MLK rap.