Documentary and panel to focus on literacy crisis in America

KALAMAZOO, MI — A film screening and panel discussion about the documentary “Making America Read” will be held on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, 300 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

“Making America Read” explores the illiteracy crisis in America, as nearly one in five of all adults are unable to read at a functional level. British-Venezuelan journalist and broadcaster, Kiki King of Unreported World, visits Detroit, where two-thirds of high school students struggle with basic reading skills, and Kalamazoo, where efforts are being made to improve adult literacy. Unreported World is a foreign affairs program produced by Quicksilver Media Productions and broadcast by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

“Making America Read” aired in March 2017 in the United Kingdom. The 24-minute film includes the story of Jerry Melson who, at the age of 16, dropped out of high school. Now, at 56, he is learning to read with the Kalamazoo Literacy Council and recently achieved one of his goals – to read a story to his granddaughter. In Kalamazoo County, over 25,000 people or 13% of adults, struggle to read. Melson is one of more than 500 adult learners at the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, which is the only organization in Kalamazoo County dedicated exclusively to helping adults improve their literacy skills.

Following the film, a moderated panel will discuss the impact of literacy in the community. Panelists include Cheryl Dickson, M.D., WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Associate Dean of Health Equity and Community Affairs; Michael D. Evans, Executive Director  of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council; Cyekeia Lee, Director of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo; and Dr. Tim Ready, Director of the WMU Lewis Walter Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations. The panel will be moderated by Von Washington, Jr., Executive Director of Community Relations with the Kalamazoo Promise.

This event is being hosted in collaboration with the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, and the WMed Social Justice Student Special Interest Group. It is free and open to the public. Parking is available on Portage and Lovell.

For more information about this event, please call the Kalamazoo Literacy Council at (269) 382-0490 ext. 222 or email