HOPE – The expression of the Black dream through music in the “Sounds of Freedom” was the theme of a Black History Month program that filled the halls of Beryl Henry Elementary School with singing echoed from the BHE cafetorium Feb. 23.
Program Moderator Sandra Rhone said the celebration focused upon a key aspect of Black life from the ancient African chants of daily life through the slave spirituals of early America and into the Civil Rights Era that remain rooted in Black life today.
“These were the sounds of freedom,” Rhone said.
Laura Vickery presented the program welcome and Brooke Phillips and Harmony Rogers led the Pledge of Allegiance. Beginning the program was BHE faculty member Inell Thornton with a stirring rendition of “Lift Up Every Voice”, which was followed by two compelling pieces by the BHE Choir, including “I Have the Power” and “Be the Light.”
BHE teacher Karen Flenory gave a reading of a poem entitled “Black Child,” and was later called upon for an a cappella rendition of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
BHE faculty member and pastor of Piney Grove AME Church in Arkadelphia, Rev. Curtis Dansby gave the keynote address with reflections upon the Black musical experience and a recitation from the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which fostered a turning point for Blacks in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Dansby recited at length from the speech, rendering the words of Dr. King in an impression of the famous sing-song phrasing which King, a noted Black minister, often used as Dansby emphasized the climactic and often-quoted reference to “’the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.’”
The program was closed with a dramatic musical rendition of the Black spiritual “Hold On” by new BHE science teacher Mrs. Artis and Mrs. Thornton.