Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Riddle

For once I was actually early in getting to a town council meeting that I had to cover for a local newspaper, and lo and behold, I was able to see a musical performance.

The mayor stood at the microphone to say how pleased he was to have 8th grade members of a school orchestra there to perform for Black History Month. As I sat in anticipation, I thought for certain that they would play a song by a black composer or a song that has somehow been recognized as being related to Black History. But they didn't. They did, however, play a lovely Ukranian folk song.

The kids were very excited to be performing and their teacher/conductor seemed like a very caring educator. But you know I had to sit there and puzzle over what it all had to do with Black History Month. (Skip to the end if you want the answer.)

There were black kids in the group, along with white, Asian, and Latino kids. Was that it? The kids were from a school that is in an area where a lot of black people live...that could have been it. I thought their teacher was African American, until he spoke, and then I knew he was Latino.

Do you give up yet?
Answer: In reality, as far as I could see there was no obvious link between the performance and Black History Month. The month was coming to a close, and the mayor had asked someone he knew to help put together some kind of program for Black History Month. At first that seems a little half-hearted, but in listening to his comments, I could see what lay beneath. He mentioned how the town had a new mayor and a new council and that this was the first time that they'd had something for Black History Month. So basically there was a new climate in the government of this tiny Maryland town that was open to acknowledging Black History Month in a tangible way. Even if it took a Ukranian folk song to do it.

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