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Jacobs brings MLK multimedia concert

By Jackie Veling

Before the show began, Bloomington resident Nancy Shin sat quietly in Auer Hall. The IU Jacobs School of Music, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and African American Arts Institute was about to present “Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” a multimedia production that celebrated the late civil rights activist.

“The Jacobs School of Music has wonderful faculty and musicians, and they always put on a good show,” Shin said. “I know that this will hit the heart of the celebration, both in music and other ways.”

Shin was right. Just a few performances in, audience members young and old wiped their eyes and clapped again and again for the students, professors and guests on stage.

These performances ranged from choir ensembles, video excerpts of King’s speeches, and guest readings to picture slideshows set to a background of violins, pianos and cellos.

In between performances, the students gave an informal feel to the heavy words by moving around chairs and pianos to prepare for following presentations.

One presenter was Viola J. Taliaferro, who spoke of the racism she had experienced around the country, including in Bloomington. Her daughter was bullied by what she called “the name” in school to the indifference of her teachers.

“Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for all of us ... all of us,” Taliaferro said. “He took us to the mountaintop, strapped to his back. He shouldn’t have had to die for us to behave normally.”

Third-year Ph.D. student Yukari Shinagawa attended the event and took notes for her African American and African Diaspora Studies program. Shinagawa applauded with the audience, which clapped past the alloted time, creating encores for Taliaferro’s words and other presenters.

“I was really moved,” Shinagawa said. “All the performances were so interesting, but it was very nice to see professors I know up there.”

The program concluded with an audience-orchestrated performance of “We Shall Overcome,” where everyone held hands across red-fabric rows.

After the show, Taliaferro remained in Auer Hall and greeted audience members. She gave a few final words to explain why she chose to present.

“We keep celebrating Martin Luther King Day, and we can’t just continue to celebrate,” Taliaferro said. “We have to make a change. It’s not difficult. We owe it to our children to not let them live in a world of racism. No one should ever have to be humiliated.”

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