To begin IUs 2021 Black History month celebration, the city of Bloomington and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center hosted a virtual panel featuring Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire and Shelly Clark of the Honey Cone.
This year’s Black history month is themed, “The Show Goes On!” with a focus on finding peace, love, joy and strength through artistic expression. The panel focused on appreciating the resilience of Black people and how they have used creative and artistic expression historically to overcome struggles.
The panel began with a song from the Trumusiq Group. IU students, staff members and members of the Bloomington community came together virtually in celebration of Black excellence, and to have a moderated conversation with musicians White and Clark.
Mayor John Hamilton gave a proclamation in his opening remarks and made Feb. 1, 2021, Verdine and Shelly day in Bloomington.
“Whereas Verdine and Shelly Clark White embody the theme of this year’s celebration, the show goes on,” said Hamilton,“I John Hamilton, Mayor of Bloomington Proclaim 1st February 2021 Verdine and Shelly day here in Bloomington.”
After the remarks, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center gave two awards. The Inaugural Clarence Rollo Turner Beyond Boundaries Award was given to junior Ky Freeman, president of Black Student Union.
The 2021 Black History Month Visionary Leadership Award was presented to the President of the Bloomington Common Council Jim Sims by Dr Beverly Calendar-Anderson, Director of Community and Family Resources Department in Bloomington.
Associate Director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Gloria Howell moderated the conversation with White and Clark about their career in music and their personal life as a couple — standing in for. Tyron Cooper, Director of Indiana University's (IU) Archives of African American Music and Culture., who was unable to join.
Shelly and Verdine said they are proud of what they have achieved in their career and did not imagine they would be this famous.
“We’ve been blessed because our music is everywhere- In elevators, commercials, films, NFL and the NBA.” White said. “It’s tough being on the road and it is not as glamorous as people might think but you learn. You learn to do those shows and those shows have to be great every night. ”
Kathryn Devich, an IU employee and avid fan of White, said Earth Wind and Fire has been the soundtrack of her life and wishes there were more events to celebrate Black people.
“I think Black History Month should be a longer month, “ Devich said, ” I think Black people have had too rough a time and they need to be celebrated. I always take away the humbleness that Shelly and Verdine have. They are the biggest superstars but here they were speaking to us today.”