Lift Every Voice

During the month of February OrchKids celebrated African American history and culture with a special project called “Lift Every Voice” – an effort spearheaded and curated by Camille Delaney McNeil, Senior Site Manager at Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School.

This special Black History Month project paid homage to the song “Lift Every Voice and
Sing,” written in 1899 by brothers James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson. First performed as a poem for a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by children at a segregated school in Jacksonville, Florida, James (the school’s principal) wrote the words as an introduction for special guest speaker, Booker T. Washington. John set the poem to music in 1919 and it was adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as the official anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.

OrchKids students spent the month discussing the meaning of the song’s lyrics and the importance of celebrating African American heritage in their own words. Students also researched notable African American musicians and their accomplishments as both artists and advocates. The project culminated with a video compilation of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as interpreted by the OrchKids Wind Ensemble, Creative Composition Ensemble, and Choir, as well as interview clips and photos of some our youngest students dressed up as the artists they studied (a subproject called “Because Of Them We Can”).