Black history takes the stage

Published 10:55 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music speaks volumes of history.

Concordia College students demonstrated the history of African-American people with song as they celebrated Black History Month with a dramatic presentation Wednesday.

The idea to base the program around music came from a paper Jarah McGowan, drama director and English instructor, wrote recently as part of her graduate studies with Auburn University in Montgomery.

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The program traced history from African music to modern day songs.

Students created the choreography and scenes for the music.

“I’m really proud of how the students came together and really made it their own,” McGowan said.

Students danced in traditional African styles and sang songs that conveyed plans or hopes of escaping from slavery.

Others sang spirituals such as “Steal Away” once used to communicate secret meetings to overthrow slave owners.

Still others sang old civil rights movement protest songs, such as “We Shall Overcome,” used unify protestors who put themselves in harm’s way by challenging the status quo over water hoses, police dogs and nightsticks.

“It’s an inspirational moment,” said Concordia College President Dr. Tilahun Mendedo. “I see myself as a human being and how we have come this far. But, is this the end of the struggle? No, we still have more to go.”

He asked students and citizens to remember the agony and struggle of the civil rights movement.

Mendedo pointed out the movement seems more significant here in Selma, where hundreds walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the way to Montgomery to draw attention to the need for federal intervention for those who wanted to register to vote.

“We are here because of all that sacrifice, struggle and hardship,” Mendedo said. “You can celebrate this month all around the world, but it’s different when it’s here in Selma.”