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The Cypher -The Art of Protest Home, Harlem & Here

31st Annual Black History Month Assembly

The path from protest to power was illustrated with stirring song, spoken word and dance performances at the Black History Month Assembly, themed “The Cypher – The Art of Protest Home, Harlem & Here,” held in the large gymnasium on February 23.

Sponsored and organized by the Black Student Union (BSU), with guidance from the group’s moderator and faculty member Tony Green and staff member Marguerite Green, this was the school’s 31st annual celebration of Black History Month.

Yasmine Patton ’17 got the program underway, with a soulful performance of the Negro National Anthem. This was her fourth year singing the opening song.

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The assembly’s featured play, written by Tony Green and BSU members, interspersed scenes from a classroom discussion about the importance of protest with vignettes of historical protests.

“Discrimination occurs in many forms, whether it’s jobs, overt discrimination, wages, or diversity in workplace and schools, people protest because they are tired of being confined, defined by labels and not being heard,” play participant Brooke Johnson ’19 said.

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The students discussed major mass movements throughout history, such as the African National Congress, which played a key role in the election of Nelson Mandela to presidency in post-Apartheid South Africa, as well as the impact of grassroots community based organizations and student groups.

The play also highlighted the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic and political movement, and the contributions of the 39th Infantry Regiment – known as the Harlem Hellfighters – the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I.

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At the conclusion of the assembly, Marguerite Green said it was important for students to understand the importance of having a voice.

“Some of you take a knee, some of you work with sustainability, some of you work with little kids,” she said. “Whatever you do, make sure it touches your soul – and not just for today, not just for this month, but for the rest of your life.”

A community presentation will be staged on February 25, in the large gymnasium, featuring inspirational speaker, author and storyteller Regina Mason. A documentary film, “Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes” (based on the afterward of Mason’s book “Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave”) was an official selection in the 2017 Pan African Film Festival.

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