The story of black history is truly the story of American history. It is the history of a brave people, a people brought to this nation against their will who, quiet as it’s been kept, built this country. The districtwide Black History program celebrates the contributions of enslaved and freed people through spoken word, dance and vocal music. The story cannot be told in one hour, one month or even one year.
The art instructors presented stellar works from their students depicting the messages of peace, the art forms of expression that highlighted African Americans (not clear what the second half of this sentence means). The work was displayed in the atrium of the high school.
Students from Bayview (Brianna Bras, Jadon Easy, Malcolm Jean-Pierre, Katie Marcia and Tristan Meli), Archer (Rosanna Secchi) and Atkinson (Tatiana Andre, Dillon DeBourg and Reginai (sp?) Tucker) presented narrations of “Who Am I?” to the program. The segment included mentions of African-American icons, such as Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Judge Thurgood Marshall, Alvin Ailey, Langston Hughes, Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Elijah McCoy, Lewis Howard Latimer, Henry Ossawa Tanner, John Stanford, George Washington Carver, Madame C. J. Walker, Rosa Parks, James Weldon Johnson, Hank Aaron, Crispus Attucks, Benjamin Banneker, Romare Bearden, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama, and many more.
Students from Archer explained the history of stepping before they performed the same ritual.
District Director of the Arts Anne-Marie Hudley Simmons prepared student speakers Rajiv Chanda, Kira Brizill and Michael Desir from the high school to narrate the entire program, and their contribution was stellar.
The program included performances by the A.T.K. Dancers from Atkinson, steppers from Archer, and Retrograde, a dance troupe from Freeport High School. In addition, there were exciting choreographed choral selections by New Visions, Atkinson, Dodd and the high school. New Visions first-grader Isabella Diaz sang “We Shall Overcome,” commemorating the music heard at the march in Washington in the 1960s. The melodious tones of the saxophone were rendered by Skye Carranza, who mesmerized the audience with his improvisation of “Amazing Grace.” It was truly a night to remember.
The select chorale opened with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and with the mass choir singing Roland Carter’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” accompanied by Brandon Belizaire on the Steinway, it was an electrifying and glorious night.
Christopher Fludd led the closing number in song, “I Need You to Survive,” and then continued to conduct the mass choir from Giblyn, New Visions, Atkinson, Dodd and the high school.