DWU invites community to African American religious music presentation

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Music transcends languages and represents cultures in unique ways, which is why during Black History Month, Dakota Wesleyan University in partnership with the South Dakota Humanities Council will present “Lift Every Voice and Sing!”

The lecture will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the Wagner Chapel at DWU. For those interested in learning more about African American religious music, this event is free and open to the public.

Joyce Jefferson and Jerry Wilske have researched the history of African American religious music from the time it was brought to the Americas to today. During the presentation, they explain the results of their research and conclude with the song brothers James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson wrote in 1900, “Lift Every Voice and Sing!”

“This song is still sung today with the same hope and fervor as it was four years after the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, which ushered in ‘separate-but-equal’ Jim Crowism,” stated a release. “They share the evolution of music, race relations and the hope for today as expressed in the lyrics of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing!’”

This program is sponsored by DWU Multicultural Committee in honor of Black History Month and made possible by the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographies provided by the South Dakota Humanities Council:

Joyce Jefferson has pursued sharing South Dakota African American history, legacy and experience since 1998. She and a group called “It's About Time! The African American Experience,” launched the pictorial exhibition “Corporals, Cooks and Cowboys: African American Pioneers in the Black Hills,” with the Journey Museum.  Jefferson has researched and shared the stories of African Americans who lived in and around Dakota Territory and South Dakota primarily in Chautauqua style to enhance the learning experience.

Jerry Wilske, former executive director of the Oscar Micheaux Center in Gregory and long-time organizer of the annual Oscar Micheaux Book and Film Festival, promotes African American history and culture. Wilske has spoken throughout the Midwest and Canada on Oscar Micheaux and his works. He is currently a board member of the South Dakota African American History Museum. An accomplished musician and former music professor, Wilske, joins Jefferson to present “Lift Every Voice and Sing: the Evolution of Spirituals.”

Categories: News
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