Sunday, January 14th, Dr. Banks and the Briarcliff High School Chorus will head to the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Ossining, to engage in a community celebration of Martin Luther King Day. The chorus will be performing uplifting and powerful music for parishioners that has strong ties to the holiday through underlying meaning. Two songs the group is planning to perform this year are, “Sia Hamba and “The Storm is Passing Over”. “Sia Hamba” has origins in African spiritual practice. Through its performance, the chorus will raise awareness for minority rights issues which Dr. Martin Luther King fought for – and are still relevant today. By performing “The Storm is Passing Over,” the chorus is referencing the concept of new beginnings and will be honoring victims of floods and hurricanes. Both these songs can be paralleled to the fight for civil rights in America, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, after certain minorities faced years of oppression in the nation.
The Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church itself embodies many aspects of what is celebrated on Martin Luther King Day, as it has a history of perseverance. With humble beginnings of only nine parishioners, the Church was able to establish itself and become an integral part of the community. Its first pastor, Father Duers, was so respected that the town of Ossining, upon his passing, named a square after him. Currently, his monument resides in Nelson Park.
The chorus and Dr. Banks are extremely
excited about this field trip, as the trip touches on many rewarding aspects of the holiday and the community. Sean Fischer, a student and attendee, said, “I’m very excited to participate in this MLK worship service, especially since it’s taking place at a multi-faith event. A lot of our songs are Afro-spiritual, mainly Christian, and it’s nice to be able to share King’s Christian message with the Ossining community and our own school.” Furthermore, Julianna Brown brings multiple perspectives of the value of the field trip as she stated, “I think this trip is particularly rewarding for a few reasons. First of all, it’s an honor to be invited into their church and to perform for them and to brighten all of their days. But also it’s really fascinating for me especially growing up going in a Catholic Church to see how all of these people practice their religion in a more spiritual and liberal sort of way. It’s also rewarding because all the people who attend the church are very ethnically diverse so Martin Luther King Day hits a lot closer to home for them. The fact that we’re able to put a smile of their faces as a they remember such a difficult time in their lives is really special.”
Across the language boundaries of the songs, the message of Martin Luther King Day is still received and revered by parishioners and the community. This is an important day to reflect on Dr. King’s message, and the chorus is honored to participate in such a meaningful celebration.