My Heart Sings So That My Spirit Can Fly – Celebrating Black History Month

This month, in honor of Black History Month, COMPAS artists are busy across the state working with students and communities to learn about and celebrate African American culture and history through the arts!

Two residencies in particular are favorites, year after year…

T. Mychael Rambo

T. Mychael Rambo

COMPAS artist T. Mychael Rambo’s residency “My Heart Sings so That My Spirit Can Fly” is sought after throughout the year, but is especially pertinent this month. Students leave their textbooks behind as they journey through African American culture and history, digging into speeches, poems, and songs from African American poets and writers.  

T. Mychael works with students to read and discuss works from well-known figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Maya Angelou, all the way up to recent works by emerging artists. “My goal is that students come away from this residency with a better knowledge of African American culture and heritage.”

COMPAS Artist Danielle Daniel’s residency “Connecting Through Stories” shares stories that highlight African American history and culture for audiences of all ages. Danielle weaves stories full of adventure and imagination that impart positive messages of courage, faith, respect and freedom.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History identifies a theme for Black History Month each year. In January, the theme was declared in a Presidential Proclamation by President Obama, who also recognized this as the 40th year of National African American History Month. The President acknowledges the generations of courageous black Americans who have made great contributions to our country.

This year’s theme, “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories,” encourages us to preserve and reflect on the places where African Americans have made history. In St. Paul, we are proud of Pilgrim Baptist Church, which is the oldest African American Church in Minnesota. Yet, recognizing that not all students are able to travel to St. Paul, or other locations, to visit historic sites, T. Mychael, Danielle, and many other COMPAS artists, can provide a means of honoring black history and culture at schools. Storytelling, music, art and dance are all great ways of engaging students in lively learning and discussion. These are the things that help history come alive.

As T. Mychael Rambo says, “Educating students about African American history helps unify diverse backgrounds and break down barriers.  It’s educational, entertaining, and engaging.

Visit BlackPast.org to learn about Pilgrim Church in Minnesota, and other historic locations.

Highlights of the National Art Gallery’s African American collection are just a click away.

Or check out resources on the African American History Month website.

Interesting in scheduling an artist for Black History Month, or another need? Contact Daniel at Daniel@compas.org.

You can learn more about COMPAS artists and available school programs, just click here.