Today: Apr 23, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. honored with music

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
Dian Brown-Albert coordinated and spoke during the event.

KRISTINA JAMESSpecial to Southern News
A hush fell over the crowd as Jonathan Blanchard sang the first bars of the Negro Spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Seconds later, Southern’s ballroom was overflowing with the sound of children’s voices singing along to the melody.
The Freedom’s Soul Tour, featuring Blanchard, a singer and actor out of Atlanta, GA, was at Southern last Wednesday to honor the life of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the annual MLK celebration.
Dr. Peter Troiano, interim vice president for student and university affairs, addressed the audience and said that he could not imagine his words being remembered 40 years from now, worldwide, just like King.
“It is amazing that [King’s] words are still alive today,” he said.
With an image of the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument serving as a backdrop and focal point, Blanchard and his band performed their renditions of some of the most popular and well-known Negro Spirituals.
According to the Authentic History Center, Fredrick Douglas once described the Negro Spirituals as “the songs of the slaves.”

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
New Haven area elementary students told what they have a dream for through art.

He said that the songs were a representation of their sorrows and, similar to tears, were relief to the pain they felt in their hearts.
As Blanchard and his band performed, they took time to explain the meanings behind the songs they were singing.
Students from King-Robinson Magnet School in New Haven as well as students from several other schools in the New Haven school district attended the performance.
Jere Melvin, a teacher at King-Robinson, enjoyed the event with her students and felt that the explanations Blanchard gave were the most important and beneficial part to the program.
“I think the information he is giving for the songs is the best part because the kids know the songs and sing them but most of them don’t know what they mean,” she said.
The program also featured Southern students Candace Medley, who sang the “Black National Anthem” and Lytasha Blackwell, who performed spoken word.

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
Jesse Kroll, a member of the Symphonic Dance Pulse Company

Also on the roster were SCSU’s Symphonic Dance Pulse Company, and Marcia Smith-Glasper, the executive assistant to the president and director of diversity and equality.
Smith-Glasper presented a quilt that was made as a part of the “I Have a Dream For…” quilt story history project, an effort at SCSU to promote and celebrate diversity and unity.
“My favorite part was when they told the story about the quilt because it had all kinds of stuff on it and it showed how they have peace in this college,” said Idiriya Flowers, a fourth grade student at King-Robinson.
While the program seemed to be a hit with the students, Cheryl Merritt, international baccalaureate primary years programme coach at King-Robinson, felt that the event lacked in the area of actually teaching the history of King and African Americans.
“I was expecting more history out of it,” she said. “Maybe it’s the teacher in me.”
Although certain aspects of the event felt short to Merritt, she said she could not deny that her students were having a great time and she would not count out the possibility of returning next year.
“The students will be asked to write a reflective paper on their experience here,” said Merritt. “Depending on what they say, we will make the decision on whether or not we will make this another trip.”

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