Learning about music and civil rights

Posted on: August 2, 2013

In Friday’s (8/2) Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina; subscription required), Nick Watson writes, “On Thursday, students from the O’Connor Method Camp honored the strike of Charleston tobacco workers almost 70 years ago. With bows raised, a group of about 50 from the music camp played an orchestral version of ‘We Shall Overcome’ at the old East Bay Street Cigar Factory. Mark O’Connor, for whom the group is named, said the song carries a deep historical significance, especially in the shadow of the Cigar Factory. ‘One of the first places that “We Shall Overcome” was heard and launched was right here at this cigar factory in 1945,’ O’Connor said.… violin instructor Pam Wiley assembled the students in an arc to tell them of the 1,200 striking black workers, striving for better pay. The song and the strike are largely credits with helping to kick off the civil rights movement in America.… While there is a tendency to believe that European music is more important in education circles, O’Connor disagrees and tries to make sure students are not stuck in the Baroque era.… Teaching music from their own heritage, O’Connor said, is more likely to get children excited about the arts.”

Posted August 2, 2013