Wilson honors Black History Month with assembly celebration

Ethan Leifman

On Friday, February 23rd, Wilson hosted its annual Black History Month assembly to celebrating Black history and culture on a citywide and national level. The assembly began with the JROTC color guard march followed by an inspiring rendition of the national anthem by choir teacher Lori Williams. In a nod towards the recent movement of sitting or kneeling for the national anthem, spearheaded by former San Francisco 49’ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Williams told students, “You have your rights, but please be respectful.” 11th Grade Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman then reminded students that Black History Month isn’t just for Black people, because the more people understand and appreciate each other, the better.

Afterwards, Wilson alumni Zara Wardick recited her spoken word poem on police brutality and its effects on Black Americans. The Wilson Concert Choir followed this moving performance with the song, “The Storm is Passing Over.” The Beacon’s own Chloe Leo and Zola Canady, seniors, then gave a presentation of how segregation, desegregation, and later, self-segregation have shaped Wilson into the school it is today.

Following the presentation, the Wilson Jazz Band performed “Blues March”, and music teacher Paul Phifer reminded students that jazz is the oldest American form of music, and was diverse from the start, with people of all races, ethnicities, and religions being key components in the art form from its conception.

As the jazz band left the stage, the choir returned to perform another popular song, “Elijah Rock.” Senior Nasirah Fair, also of The Beacon, performed an inspiring spoken word poem about the complications and virtues of being a 17-year-old Black American girl, and her relationship with her ancestry. The jazz band then performed another song, and afterwards, a group of five Wilson students performed the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day, a more modern but equally relevant selection for the assembly. Lastly, another group of Wilson students performed traditional African dances, complete with traditional music.

The assembly concluded with a slideshow of famous African Americans stretching from Sojourner Truth to Barack Obama, which transitioned to famous Black DC natives such as Dave Chappelle and Marvin Gaye. The slideshow also featured the previously mentioned Williams, as well as former Wilson student Jahmari Sydnor who was killed in a drive-by shooting last year. When the clock hit 11:45, the music switched to God’s Plan by Drake, and many students immediately joined in singing in what can be called a very Wilson moment.