Snapshots of Civil Rights Concert
February 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm
First Church of Christ in Longmeadow
763 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA
Music with lyrics from the writings and speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert Kennedy, Charles McLaurin, Langston Hughes, and others.
Composed by Anita Anderson Cooper
Featuring Robs Adams, Marco Bonilla, Michaela Bowen, Dan Inglis, Karen McCarthy, Margaret Pash, Ben Peterson, and John Thomas, with the New Amherst Choir and the First Church of Christ in Longmeadow Chancel Choir
In June 2017, Anita Anderson Cooper won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and studied in Mississippi at Delta State University. The program was total immersion into the culture, music, and history of the Delta. Civil Rights was at the center of it all.
The program traveled to the Civil Rights museum and STAX records in Memphis, visited the Dockery (the birthplace of the Blues), walked the riverside of the Mississippi, visited Mound Bayou, followed the Blues Trail, ate and drank in Blues clubs, and much more.
A lot of the classroom time was spent with living historians. They listened to Fannie Lou Hamer’s friend and campaign manager, Charles McLaurin. They sat with Emmett Till’s cousins and extended family in the courthouse where his murderers were acquitted. According to Ms. Cooper, “It was an incredibly powerful time.”
Cooper’s final project was her very first composition, a song entitled “Mississippi Delta.” The refrain for the song came to her in class on the very first day. She recorded it and sent it to Delta State, thus fulfilling her NEH grant obligations. Since then, she continued to read, research, and write music about the people she had met and read about.
The compositions are solo, instrumental and choral. Many of the songs in “Snapshots of Civil Rights” are parts of speeches, letters, and poems from writers and civil rights leaders including Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Charles McLaurin, and others.