“I'll tell you what ‘freedom’ is to me—no fear!”
The words of legendary soul singer Nina Simone inspired the students, faculty, and parents assembled at this year's Gospel Celebration, titled “A Journey of Love, Rooted in the African-American Tradition.” Student performers in the upper division choirs, Brass Band, and Instrumental Ensemble performed traditional spirituals and other songs written and made famous by African-American artists, as well as some tunes on the theme of love—the celebration fell on Valentine’s Day.
Song selections included “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” and other spirituals; “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess; “I Dream a World” with lyrics by Langston Hughes; “All You Need Is Love” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; and “Imagine,” also by Lennon.
The fourth grade also presented a “reader’s theater,” dramatizing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, given at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They also presented Augusta Savage Shapes Her World, a vignette that explores the work of Augusta Savage, an African-American sculptor.
A video presentation also highlighted the many ways that African-Americans have shaped American society and furthered the cause of freedom, both historically and today—from Marley Dias to Chance the Rapper to Serena Williams to Colin Kaepernick.
While this celebration was attended by students in senior kindergarten through eighth grade, a smaller, age-appropriate celebration will be held for the early childhood later this month
The program was coordinated by members of the faculty, including Jonathan De Vries, chair of the music department, Kimberly Jackson, upper division math teacher; Nicole Johnson ’05, third grade teacher, Duane Bailey-Castro, upper division social studies teacher; Eboni Washington, senior kindergarten teacher; Sam Nester, director of brass band; Jordan Hirsch, associate director of Brass Band; Beth Soleimany, director of instrumental ensemble; and Katie De Vries, director of children’s theater.