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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: U.S. Premiere of 'Making America Read' Film Planned Tuesday in Kalamazoo


A documentary that debuted overseas earlier this year about America's "illiteracy crisis" will be shown Tuesday, June 20 in Kalamazoo -- the first screening in the United States, says Michael Evans, executive of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. A discussion will follow. The council's tutoring work with struggling adult learners is featured in the 24-minute "Making America Read" film. Evans joins WMUK's Earlene McMichael on today's WestSouthwest to discuss the event. (Click on icon to hear interview.)

The documentary screening and panel discussion are scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20 at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine. It is free and open to the public.

Credit Earlene McMichael | WMUK
Michael Evans is in his seventh year as executive director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.

In addition to Evans, panelists include Dr. Cheryl Dickson, associate dean of health equity and community affairs at the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine; Cyekeia Lee, director of the Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo; and Tim Ready, director of WMU's Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations. The moderator is Von Washington, executive director of community relations for the Kalamazoo Promise. 

The Literacy Council's Evans says the film initially aired on television in the United Kingdom in March of this year. Kiki King, a reporter for Unreported World, a foreign affairs program in the U.K., visited Detroit and Kalamazoo for the piece, he says.

While in Kalamazoo, she shadowed one of the Literacy Council's adult learners, capturing on camera the man reading to his grand-daughter for the first time, which Evans says had been among the learner's goals. According to Evans, over 25,000 people in Kalamazoo County, or 13 percent of adults, find it hard to read.

The "Making America Read" event is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, WMU medical school, and the WMEd Social Justice Student Special Interest Group.

(For more about adult illiteracy, including how it happens, how to spot it and how to become a tutor, click here to hear WMUK's Earlene McMichael's half-hour special that aired in 2014. It tells the story of a man, in his 50s, who improved his reading through the Kalamazoo Literacy Council).



  • What: Screening/discussion of "Making America Read." 
  • When: 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 20.
  • Where: Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, 300 Portage St., Kalamazoo.
  • Cost: Free. Open to the public. No pre-registration.
  • Info: Kalamazoo Literacy Council, (269) 382-0490, ext. 222;
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