On March 1, the 5th-8th graders at Hershorin Schiff Community Day School enjoyed a performance of “The Children’s March” with The Choral Artists of Sarasota, conducted by Artistic Director Joseph Holt. Charlene Hunter-Gault – a civil rights activist, journalist, and former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio – narrated the program via video.
Community Day School was the only school in Sarasota County to host the event. A public performance took place on March 5 at Church of the Palms.
The historical Children’s March (also referred to as the Children’s Crusade) was a protest against extreme but locally lawful segregation in the city of Birmingham, Ala. Over 1,000 school students participated in Birmingham in May 1963. While these protests were intended to be peaceful, marchers were arrested and then, as the protests continued, they were stopped by the “commissioner of public safety,” Bull Connor, who brought in dogs, paddy wagons, and fire hoses to frighten students into submission.
These events were photographed and reported by journalists both nationally and internationally, showing the world what was happening in a city in which segregation had increased manyfold since the Civil War, a hundred years earlier.
In 2012, Andrew Bleckner and Charlotte Black Alston were commissioned by Singing City of Philadelphia to compose a work based on the historical and life-changing Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963. The moving and dramatic oratorio takes audiences on a journey to the historical event. Incorporating traditional African-American styles and spirituals, the work shows the incivility of segregation through the innocence and optimistic spirit of children.
“Black history is American history; our goal in sharing this program with our students was to teach the power of student advocacy and peaceful protest,” said Community Day Head of School Dan Ceaser. “At Community Day School, we empower our students to understand they can make a difference at any age – in this way, we build future leaders who are dedicated to building a better world. We are grateful to The Choral Artists of Sarasota for sharing this powerful program with our middle school students.”
For more about Community Day School, visit communityday.org.
About Hershorin Schiff Community Day School
The mission of the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, which serves students in early childhood through eighth grade, is to impact the world by creating a community where children of all faiths demonstrate integrity, academic excellence, and a desire to improve the world. Community Day offers a rigorous, project-based academic program in a diverse and vibrant learning environment rooted in the Jewish values of honesty, integrity, mutual trust and respect. For more information, visit the website at communityday.org or call 941-552-2770.