Good News from A Great City
The Heartbeat of Haverhill had a hard time double focusing at the student readings for Black History Month presented by POSE at Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill. Sometimes our minds would miss a few critical words when we got caught up in the talent as high school and college students read from favorite (sometimes even original) works to celebrate black history. Witnessing the eloquence and passion of the performances would sweep us up in the awe of students themselves and we needed to rein ourselves back in to listen to the eloquence of the words. We were encouraged by Brooks School professor Edward Carson to hear the words not as a part of history but to let them speak to us personally, to use them to assess ourselves individually today.
These were powerful pieces calling for black Americans to demonstrate that they can achieve on the highest levels, that segregation in schools is unconstitutional, that despite hardships “still I rise”, that anger is a root to change, that family is the foundation of success. A reading of Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again” read by a Brooks School student from London named Jacob was first published in 1935, yet the sentiments expressed are very reminiscent of America’s current political environment. That was both surprising and sad as the expectation should be that we’d advanced greatly in 82 years.
POSE Inc’s video of Black History Month celebration.
The students admirably represented Haverhill High School, UMass Lowell, and, guests to Haverhill, multiple students from Brooks School in North Andover, along with their professor Edward Carson who presented opening and closing remarks. The night was emceed by POSE, Inc’s founding partner Katrina Hobbs Everett. POSE is the acronym for the Power of Self Education. The group is dedicated to its mission of “Empowering individuals towards self-sustained social responsibility through education. Community focused, education driven, faith-based 501c3 nonprofit.”
Some of the student presenters are below.
The readings started with Haverhill High School’s DJ Cunningham relaying the words of President Obama’s farewell speech. Other written pieces included authors Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes, and a piece by essayist Audre Lord. UMass Lowell student Yonnie Colllins also read her own work accompanied by the finger snaps of approval from the near capacity crowd. A Brook’s student drew everyone in with his passionate original piece that combined spoken words punctuated by sung lines.
Read Maya Angelou “Still I Rise” written in 1978.
Read Langston Hughes “Let America Be America Again” published in 1935
The Heartbeat of Haverhill encourages everyone to visit Buttonwoods (where I also made a flamboyant feathered Valentine this month and became obsessed with the historic vessels hand crafted to ride the tides and deliver freight right in Haverhill’s part of the Merrimack River) for its wide variety of offerings under the guidance of Kaleigh Pare, Program Coordinator.