“My race is just one of the many parts of my beauty. At Mercy in this community, we all should appreciate one another’s beauty.”
As the 2020 Black History Month assembly drew to a close, junior Chari Gilbert and senior Megan Driver captured the attention of the entire auditorium though their performance of an original spoken word poetry piece entitled “And Still I Rise.” This powerful and direct piece called out 2020 racism and expressed the inspiring perseverance of the black community.
The goal of the assembly was to encourage the Mercy community to challenge their preconceived notions and be open to different perspectives.
Mercy’s annual Black History Month assembly has always served as an outlet for the Human Relations Council (HRC) with the help of BASE (Black Awareness Society Education) to enlighten the Mercy community on a crucial aspect of American history that is not often talked about enough. For many years, the assembly has stayed within primarily educational boundaries, but this year’s assembly was inspired by the positive feedback HRC received from the Our Mercy World assembly in the fall.
“We decided to do a hodgepodge of different [topics],” said HRC moderator and English teacher Mr. Steve Morgan. “We had so many ideas and we didn’t want to eliminate stuff just because it didn’t fall under one theme.”
The assembly started as the lights dimmed and muffled footsteps were heard from the back of the auditorium as the girls of HRC and BASE walked through the auditorium singing. The hour-long assembly showcased several exciting cultural dances and vocal performances. There was a skit of girls in a hair salon each explaining why they are proud of their black hair. A video was made in which two students from Mercy told why they are proud to be black and who most inspires them. Members of the audience were called on stage to participate in trivia that asked questions such as “how many HBCU’s (historically black colleges and universities) are in the United States?” Also, BASE was able to get in contact with a former Mercy student who started BASE and tell the school why she started it and the importance of black history education.
BASE Vice President and senior Jocelyn Smith said that she is most proud of this new format for the assembly. “[It] calls attention for people to actually learn something,” said Smith.
BASE decided to take more of an active role in contributing to the assembly this year by helping write the script and choreographing some dances. Part of the success of this year’s assembly can be attributed to the increase in voices and ideas that formed the show. The Black History Month assembly was a perfect blend of entertainment and important information that allowed the community to take a step back from their own ideas and explore new viewpoints.
“I hope everyone who came to the assembly was impacted one way or another,” said HRC senior Ava McElmeel. “I hope their eyes were opened to the different struggles blacks in America, and in our Mercy community still face today.”
Story by Julia Canty; Photos by Caitlin Flynn; Video by Maddie Sullivan