“We’ll walk hand in hand someday.”
These are the words of African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley, adapted by folk singer Pete Seeger. “We Shall Overcome” is an iconic symbol of the civil rights movement, and on the night of Jan. 18, it helped a campus come together as one.
ArtStreet’s “A Night in ’63 Vinyl Party” saw a generous turnout of students, faculty and community members of many ethnicities, enjoying camaraderie in an homage to generations before who would have had to do so in secret. Punctuated by dramatic poetry readings, the evening’s playlist included songs from Martin Luther King Jr.’s era, including music by Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.
When the music played, it was loud and inviting, causing those in attendance to feel compelled to dance. But when it came time for a reading, it was silent, as if in sober respect for the poet and the issues at hand.
The poems were written by students in the Ukuri club specifically for the celebration, said freshman fine arts major Tori Seitelman. The main themes were inspired by dreams of eliminating racism, as well as personal reflections of friends’ and relatives’ experiences.
In addition to the classic music and hard-hitting poetry, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company showcased an up-close-and-personal dance number especially for the evening. There was also an area where attendants were able to paint their own posters inspired by the civil rights movement, and specifically, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (see also, “Poster child”).
The casual, personal atmosphere of the evening reflected the determination of the movement and the celebration of its success, echoing the words of Tindley: “Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome someday.”