Having a Voice - Woven With Words
David Mory and others contributed to this article
Dr. Joseph Amprey
Dr. Joseph Amprey, Professor of Student Support Service, director of Multicultural Studies, and International Students’ Advisor at Kutztown University, has been a major influence in the African American community in Berks County. Amprey is the founder of The DRUM, a bimonthly newspaper that is written by African Americans for African Americans. The DRUM displays the talents of local writers and columnists, and is a place where African Americans can be creative. Poetry, short stories, and columns are included in its pages. By publishing The DRUM, Dr. Amprey allows contributing authors a space to voice their views and tell their stories, and the paper creates a sense of community.
Prior to publishing The DRUM, Dr. Amprey was a columnist for the Reading Eagle and Reading Times newspapers. He tackled tough topics such as urban education, racism, and ethics in the city and surrounding suburbs. Often, Amprey received praise for his work, but there would be also be conflicting viewpoints expressed in other articles.
Dr. Amprey, who has a Ph.D. in Student Personnel Administration, an M.Ed. in Education, an M.S. in Psychology, and a B.A. in Spanish, is a former Dean of Academic Services at Kutztown. As an accomplished author, educator, and community advocate, Dr. Amprey has been a catalyst and a true leader for African Americans, using his resources for the betterment of others around him.
Along with shaping the young minds of tomorrow as a professor at Kutztown, Dr. Amprey also is an accomplished speaker, delivering speeches for numerous conferences. He has spoken in celebration of Martin Luther King Day at Lebanon Valley College and was the keynote speaker during the civil rights portion of a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Equal Housing Fair in 2004. At a Berks County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Amprey spoke at great length about the African American community and the need for public intervention. He said, “If you’re going to understand a man from Muhlenberg or Birdsboro you have to get inside of his skin,” and the same is true for getting to know African Americans beyond the stereotypes: “We need to get church groups from Exeter and Wyomissing and get them into center city Reading to talk with kids, to find out how they think” (Amprey 1994, 17).
Dr. Amprey is a member of the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education and has been appointed by the mayor of Reading to the city’s Ethics Board. Dr. Amprey has also published a book on student services which can be found in local libraries. He has also won many awards, including the Boy Scouts of America Spirit of Scouting Award.
Mr. Ronald Rouse
Mr. Ronald Rouse is the “chief reporter-photographer-editor-publisher and ad salesman” for M Voice, a monthly newspaper that aims to convey the positives of the African American community in Berks County and to provide a sense of hope and encouragement, especially for young people. Rouse founded M Voice in 1989 in part because “There is no question,” he says, “that most [African Americans] regard the Reading Eagle as a white newspaper” (Forester 1996, 6). Although Rouse writes most of the articles for the paper, community members submit articles and other writings, including letters to the editor. According to Dr. Amprey, M Voice “has been eastern Pennsylvania’s minority voice” (Amprey 2002, 2).
Rouse moved to Reading from the Bronx, New York in the mid-1980s to work as a regional security specialist for a retail chain that eventually went out of business. He took that opportunity to create M Voice, modeled after The Minority Voice, a newspaper published by his relatives in North Carolina (Forester 1996).
Although Rouse does not necessarily intend for M Voice to be controversial, he lets readers comment on controversial issues through letters to the editor, and Rouse himself is very willing to fight for what he believes. He led a 1998 effort to develop a group called the Dialogue on Race Commission, which aimed to be an active voice for African Americans. In 1998, he organized a two-day teen summit, “Excellence without Excuses,” at the YMCA for approximately 150 youths, and also fought to open a game arcade and teen dance club and café in Reading. In 2000, Rouse began a grassroots anti-crime task force, Operation Crush Crime.