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MRI Scholars Dress Up for a Night with Jacqueline Woodson

MRI is known for educating youth on music and entertainment media. We also like to push our scholars to think out of the box, and introduce them to new and unfamiliar experiences. On Friday, February 7th, 11 of our Lakeland leaders, Barclay bosses, with a few Western winners joined forces to meet world renowned author Jacqueline Woodson.

Jacqueline Woodson has a long list of accolades from the 1990’s to the present. She was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2018-2019, by the Library of Congress. Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and lived her early years in the South. She moved to Brooklyn about age 7, when she realized that she wanted to be a writer. “Stories are the earliest form of technology,” says Woodson. From the act of writing itself to storytelling, she became fascinated with creating these characters in her head. She is best known for her books “Miracle Boy’s”, “After Tupac and D Foster”, and her autobiography “Brown Girl Dreaming”.

When the MRI squad entered the library, youth were greeted with a free book of choice from Jacqueline Woodson and a chance to get it signed by her at the end of the night. The Central room of the library was complimented with a smooth jazz band that we couldn’t resist. We were serenaded by Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, while reaching for the grilled shrimp and jerk chicken nuggets to stuff our faces. Off to the right, scholars noticed a photo area that made all of their faces light up.

We rushed over to the area and started flicking it up. Before you knew it, it was a crowd of people around us waiting to get a professional picture taken. We became the self proclaimed media crew of the event.

As the music quietly faded and everyone took their seats, The Enoch Pratt Central Library’s First Young Adult Live! Event began. Woodson was introduced with a peach pink tunic with big white leaves scattered all over. She points out her laser eye surgery accounting for her subtly different appearance.

She grew up in diverse settings and it shows in her writing. Jacqueline says, “I got here by the people that came before me.” She says that novels are written by showing what a character wants and how they get what they want. She only writes stories that leave the reader with hope. She also said the more specific the writing is, the more people the author will reach. A lot of us go through our own specific journey without realizing that we have many shared experiences.

Woodson wrapped up with questions from the audience. The banquet caterers swiftly cleaned off the black clothed tables while other youth were still trying to get their picture taken. Shortly after, MRI readily gathered around the book signing table, waiting for their new favorite author. Some of the MRI students had already started reading Woodson’s book “Brown Girl Dreaming”. The scholars left with a free gift and free knowledge on a Friday evening.

Feeling interested? Get involved and follow us on Facebook at Media Rhythm Institute to see all of the amazing experiences we’ve created and stay updated on upcoming events. Visit our new interactive website at and send us your email, then you’ll have access to our monthly newsletter filled with instructor highlights and more!

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