Lift Every Voice and Speak!
Date: May 2, 2008
On April 19th, the orientation gallery at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was transformed into the "Down Beat Jazz Club" for a night of music and spoken word.
The event "Lift Every Voice and Speak!" featured music by the Jazz Disciples and original poetry by spoken word artists Glenn North, Shavonne "Queen" Standifer, Kynana "Yep" Ramsey, Taylor Brown, and Robert Brown.
The Jazz Disciples are an outstanding group out of Kansas City consisting of saxophonist Gerald Dunn, drummer Michael Warren, pianist Everett Freeman, and bassist Tyrone Clark. Glenn North, as master of ceremonies, did a great job of keeping the program moving. The instrumental and verbal performances were entertaining and inspiring.
Over 150 people enjoyed the classic jazz and the stirring poetry. To open the show, legendary Topekan Jack Alexander recalled for the crowd the historic "Down Beat," a weekend hangout and dance place for Topeka's African American youths in the mid-1900's. The historic "Down Beat" was located in the Monroe Elementary School auditorium, the very same place that is now the orientation gallery at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.
Jazz, the great American musical art form, and the power of the spoken word were brought together in a historic setting to celebrate a shared culture and to elevate the arts.