Unsung heroes sing back
Students pay tribute to civil rights activists
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
The Black Student Association worked for three weeks to organize an event in remembrance of the struggles, work and lives of some lesser-known, but not less important, civil rights activists such as Lucy Burns, Daisy Lee Dates and John Peters Humphrey.
About 30 students attended the event on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of Overman Student Center.
Archellus Ponds, BSA member and senior in mechanical engineering, began the evening’s activities by playing “Lamentations of the Heart” by David Wesley on the piano.
“We added music to the program because it creates a strong sense of togetherness,” said Kevin Georges, BSA member and junior in communication. “That was a really strong aspect needed during the civil rights movement.”
The main event followed Ponds’ performance when Georges walked on stage and began by remarking on the success of the recent events BSA has hosted for Black History Month.
“MLK, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, they were all important people,” Georges said. “We’ve honored them in many events this past month, but what about all the other people who helped to make the civil rights movement a success? I’ve always imagined having a conversation with them.”
On queue, eight students walked on stage as Georges introduced the “Unsung Heroes.” The heroes took their seats and Georges began asking questions to each individually, who then responded with short descriptions of themselves and their achievements.
“I wanted this to be more than just us talking about the people,” Georges said. “I thought, ‘Why not add some flair to it and have students embody each of the heroes to make it more interesting.”’
Areyanna Jackson, junior in nursing, volunteered to participate as one of the heroes in the program. She portrayed Daisy Dates.
“Kevin (Georges) did most of the research for us,” she said. “Originally we were just going to have our little scripts, but Kevin changed it up on us about a week ago.”
Jackson says the program changed from reading scripts to each person being asked questions about their thoughts and actions involved in the civil rights movement.
“We had to answer based on how we thought the person we were embodying would,” Jackson said. “It required some deeper research, but I thought it made the program more interesting.”
As the unsung heroes were introduced, their role in the movement, however minor, was made clear as well as who inspired them to perform their respective deeds and who they, in turn, inspired.
“You had to have a lot of faith during the movement,” Georges said. “All these people, whether they’re famous or unsung, had to have faith, and they all worked for one common goal.”
Following the interviews, Ponds returned to the piano for a self-selected mix of songs.
The participating members of BSA joined on stage and began a group sing-along of “Lean on Me,” accompanied by Ponds on piano. Audience members were encouraged to join in and lyrics were provided in the programs.
“People who participated in the civil rights movement always had somebody to lean on,” Georges said.