Jazz musicians bring Black History Month to life with free school program

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Monday, February 20, 2023
Jazz musicians bring Black History Month to life for students
'Jazz4Freedom' is setting the stage for 4th-grade students to be the change they want to see in the world.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- 'Jazz4Freedom' is setting the stage for 4th-grade students to be the change they want to see in the world.

"We are all professional performers," said Luke Carlos O'Reilly, a teaching artist and the program host. "And we talk about social change and using your voice and finding your voice to make that change."

Jazz4Freedom, a free program of the Kimmel Cultural Campus, hosts workshops surrounding the history of jazz and Black History in America. Those topics become part of the class curriculum and culminate in a trip to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to see live performances of song, dance, poetry, and more.

In-between acts, O'Reilly stimulates conversation about civil rights and social justice with the audience.

"It's really amazing what can come out of the mouth of a 9-year-old, 10-year-old when you're talking about such serious issues," he said.

Alaysha Nixon is one of those students who attends Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Of all the topics that she learned about, Nixon was most moved by gun violence.

"I think we should stop it and it's hurting a lot of people in our city," she said. "And people are dying really fast and I don't like that."

Nixon even said she might consider a career in activism when she grows up in order to help her neighborhood.

Given how the arts can connect students with the world around them, the Kimmel Cultural Campus offers this experience for free.

"Without free programming, a lot of our students would not have this level of access to the arts," said Danielle Allen, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement with the Kimmel Cultural Campus. "I would love for our society to get to a place where our students can look at a stage and see themselves represented so that they can be inspired to create their own art."

Jazz4Freedom is just about finished with live performances for this season. However, it is only one of the various creative programs offered by the Kimmel Cultural Campus. To learn more about how to get involved, visit their website.

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