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Black History/Futures Month 2023: Black Music & Expression

Calhoun marked Black History/Futures Month by exploring the theme Black Music and Expression. Created by Upper Schoolers, the theme spoke to the idea that Black music and expression have transformed global culture and have been tools to explore diverse and complex Black experiences. From weaving the stories of individual changemakers into daily lessons to hosting assemblies across divisions, Calhoun’s programming centered joy and reflection.

Middle School & Upper School Hip Hop Assembly

We hosted a hip hop assembly for our MS and US students. Eric Royo, teacher, founder and director of Hip Hop Building Blocks, led the event by discussing the history of hip hop, its origins in the Bronx, its 50th anniversary this year and how it has evolved over time. The students even got to create graffiti and breakdance!



The Brooklyn Museum Black Affinity Group Trip

Members of the Upper School Black Affinity group visited the Brooklyn Museum to learn more about Black art and expression in the past and future. They viewed the museum’s various exhibits, including Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter “Aint I a Woman,” which examines the long history of reproductive injustice in the United States. As the museum's website describes, “The artist and advocate centers storytelling and healing in work that explores the institutional, legal, and cultural processes that have brutally stripped Black women and girls of their bodily autonomy.”


Upper School Assembly, Rapper K. Goddess & Marsha St. Hubert P’33 of Atlantic Records

Rapper K. Goddess and Marsha St. Hubert of Atlantic Records (and Calhoun parent!) came to our US assembly to have an engaging conversation with our students. They discussed their journeys, their successes and failures, and their goals in the music industry. Our students loved hearing their perspectives as Black women in the music industry. 


Middle School Black Lives Matter Teach-In

Middle School students participated in the annual Black Lives Matter Teach-In. They learned about everything from Black leaders in the climate justice movement to the role of Black and Brown women creatives in the sneaker and streetwear space. As part of the teach-in, students designed their own community gardens in a workshop hosted by Harlem Grown, tried Afro-Cuban dance with dancer Liethis Hechevarria, and took a Harlem Renaissance walking tour. View the highlights from the MS BLM Teach-In as featured on Calhoun's Instagram.



Middle School Author Visit, Brittney Morris 

Brittney Morris, author of the 8th grade summer reading book, Slay, spoke to Middle Schoolers about her background and how she got her start as an author. Brittney encouraged students to follow their individual passions – sharing how leaning into her own interests of comics, video games, and Afrofuturism helped her discover her career. She's also the author of The Cost of Knowing, Spiderman Miles Morales: Wings of Fury, a contributor to the short story collection Together Apart, and a video game writer, including games The Lost Legends of Redwall, Spider-Man and Wolverine.


Lower School Assembly, Sterling Strings

Sterling Strings, a string quartet featuring two violins, a cello and a viola, performed a concert for our students from grades K-5. This ensemble of talented musicians played their beautiful adaptations of popular songs by Black artists such as Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and some more contemporary pieces, like Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" (which was a huge hit!). They ended the assembly with a rousing rendition of "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" and invited students to sing and clap along. 


Lower School–Early Childhood Assembly 

All 3’s-2nd grade students gathered for a building-wide assembly to celebrate Black History/Black Futures month. Second graders presented what they’ve learned about changemakers Colin Kaepernick and Barack Obama and students listened to two books read aloud, I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins. Lower School Music Teacher Mariana also led the group in singing the Nina Simone song “Young, Gifted and Black.” 



Lower School–Early Childhood Capoeira Sessions

In their Español/Creative Movement and Música classes, kindergarten, first and second grade students were introduced to capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian art form created in Brazil over 400 years ago. Miguel Tejeda P’35 led the group through call-and-response songs, taught them a few signature capoeira moves, and kept the rhythm as he played various Brazilian instruments, including the berimbau. The children loved the opportunity to practice the movements and learn some Portuguese in the process.


Lower School–Elementary Assembly, Black Women in Music

Chorus teacher Tislam Swift led an assembly for LS-E students where he focused on Black women in music and shared how many artists today are still connected to traditions from the Harlem Renaissance. The students learned about Ella Fitzgerald and scat singing, and sang along to Irving Berlin’s "Blue Skies."



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