OKOLONA – When administration at Okolona High School approached Autumn Bankhead with a request to direct the choir for the Black History program in February, she was in her element.
Bankhead, currently the Assistant Librarian, taught music in the district for over five years and has volunteered her assistance with the marching band’s color guard. She has led Christmas programs and special events including graduation programs.
But when she sent out the call for singers in the program she got more than she had bargained for.
“I started asking students to stop by the library to let me know if they were interested,” Bankhead said. “Students who don’t usually sing but love to act wanted to participate.”
Bankhead and her co-organizers, Christopher Ware and jacqueline Brown, began looking for a skit or play for the students and Brown and Bankhead decided they would write an original play. After discovering the national theme for 2013 was, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington,” Bankhead said the wheels really started turning.
“I thought, ‘What if we make this an all-original production?'” Bankhead said. “We can write our own kits, songs and poetry.”
Bankhead sought out the talents of students and faculty in the district for the program which included five original poems and a reenactment of the march on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech made famous by Martin Luther King Jr.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to the original musical compositions,” Bankhead said, the the program featured music including, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “Ride On King Jesus,” “Oh, Freedom,” and “Awesome.”
Bankhead said the program was organized to emphasize the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed 150 years ago, as well as the March of Washington that took place 50 years ago.
“I visualized two skits to demonstrate what it must have felt like to experience those two events,” Bankhead said “The objective of the program was to show that since these events took place, we have come a long was as a nation, but we are challenged daily to live and serve in a way that is reflective of the dream.”