By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On the last day of Black History Month, a Philadelphia charter school received help from volunteers to address the importance of reading.

Eric Langston, assistant principal of school culture at Francis D. Pastorious Mastery Charter School in Germantown, says family and community members from all over participated in their program in which 100 black men came in to read to the students.

img 1719 Students Get Lesson In Literacy On Final Day Of Black History Month

(credit: Francis D. Pastorius Mastery Charter School)

“In conjunction with Read Across America Week, we are showing our students the bridge between literacy and also Black history,” Langston said. “We go into the classrooms and pick quotes that we talk about for our older students, and then we do Smart Goals so that they can do some action planning in terms of how their lives should be as a result of reading.”

“A lot of our students do not have active fathers in their lives or active positive male participants,” he said. “So we invite families and uncles and dads and brothers and cousins and community members to come.”

One volunteer, named Uncle Buddy, says it’s important to have the courage to speak about illiteracy as well.

“It’s hard for me to even speak about myself lacking or can’t read because that’s embarrassing.”

8th grader Alicia Harris says this is a relevant topic on the final day of Black History Month.

“Because back in slavery times, black men did not know how to read,” she said. “It was harder for black people to even read, so now that black people can read it’s important.”

In one of the break-out groups, visitor Malary Wood read to 3rd graders:

“I read to them about Martin Luther King’s big words, his phenomenal words,” Wood said. “They also learned about Ruby Bridges, they also learned about Sonia Sanchez.”

And seventh grader Amir says he enjoyed the program.

“It could show you how to grow up and be successful like they are,” he said.

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