African-American experience presented from Civil War, beyond
February 16, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y., Feb. 16, 2011 -- Many times before West Point Cadet Robert Weir appreciated the African-American History Month program, sitting among an audience. On Feb. 11, he proudly took the stage with his fellow cadets to present "A Ways to Go: African-Americans in the Civil War and Beyond."
"This is kind of like a dream come true for me," Weir, Class of 2011, said. "Now it's me up there on the stage. We started organizing about a month and a half ago, just before the Army-Navy Game. It's been crazy getting everything together, but it's been fun."
Weir, the president of the Cultural Affairs Seminar, wrote, directed and hosted the event at Robinson Auditorium, which began outside the entrance offering attendees ample servings of soul food-savory, spicy barbecue pork ribs, chicken wings, candied yams and mac-n'-cheese. Then the mind and spirit were well-fed by song, readings and dramatic presentations from a cadet cast, as well as musical selections from the Cadet Gospel Choir and U.S. Military Academy Band.
The program included excerpts from speeches and writings from such distinguished African-Americans as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Dramatic presentations included "The Weight on our Shoulders" by Cadet Jocelyn Lewis, Class of 2014, and "Black Statue of Liberty" by Class of 2012 Cadet Shalela Dowdy. Class of 2011 Cadet Myea Rice delivered a soulful rendition of "A Change is Gonna Come."
Weir said assembling this energetic collection of cadets wasn't difficult, and they all brought their own ideas to the program.
"All the cadets came up with their own thing, whether it was a song or speech to add into the program. It was really a good compilation, so all I had to do was make it flow into the script and bring it all together," Weir said.
Not all the students sharing the stage were cadets. Jorden Warren, a West Point Middle School student, delivered part of her award-winning Martin Luther King Jr. essay. At the conclusion of the program, the eighth grader was presented a certificate of achievement.
The program was sponsored by the Equal Opportunity Office and the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic. The festivities were not exclusive to one night. On Feb. 12, the Jazz Knights performed a free concert entitled "The Legacy of Miles Davis" at Eisenhower Hall.