Student, community members to ‘lift every voice’ next week

If the phrase “Lift Every Voice” sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is the title of a song by Langston Hughes, known to many as the African-American national anthem.

This anthem has inspired Center for Intercultural Advancement and Student Success (CIASS) to bring a synonymously-titled event to Allegheny. CIASS worked closely with Dr. Dixon, an administrator at the Crawford County READ Program, to put the event together and dedicate it to Black History Month.

“About four years ago, the scholarship foundation talked about things that would happen through the year to remind the community about Dr. King,” said Dixon. “One thing that came out of our board is an event that we could do during February.”

Lift Every Voice will host various talents of college students as well as of Meadville Middle School students, and will be held in Ford Chapel on February 21 at 6 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for a diverse group of people to come together and share talents and different forms of expression,” Dixon said. “For example, one middle school student will be reading [Walt Whitman’s] ‘O Captain my Captain,’ which is a piece that is highly influenced by Lincoln’s role in slavery,” said Dixon.

Lift Every Voice will also feature singing, dancing and even an open mic. A community member will be reciting Dr. King’s speech from memory.

“There are all sorts of ways of expressing on how we feel about coming together as people and as a community,” Dixon said.

The impact of these talents on the community is what many are looking forward to. Inspired for different reasons, many students are excited to perform in the show.

“I’ll be reading two pieces that have influenced my perception of my history,” said Maya Jones, ’14.

This event is a collaboration with various groups from the community. Allegheny students had the opportunity to work closely with Meadville students as they practiced their acts at their schools.

“The mentors from the college and the Bonners work with the students in the middle school and it’s amazing to see what happens,” Dixon said.

This is the first year the event will include middle school students. Joe Gabbel is another active member who contributes to the show, working with Kazi Joshua, director of CIASS, on everything from the dress rehearsal to the order of the acts.

“This event is a chance for them share their talents with everyone,” said Hanna Falein, ’14.

The event is meant to pull the community together through expression of the arts. At the ending of the show the audience will have a chance to share its talents as well.

“It inspires college students to interact with Meadville students, especially during rehearsal,” Falein said.

A school bus will come to the event to transport other students who are a part of the Meadville community to watch their fellow students perform in the show.