When I was in high school in Binghamton (upstate NY) in the late 1960s, my sister Leslie, another black teenage girl, and I were invited to visit the classroom of the junior high school in suburban Vestal. The reason, if I’m remembering correctly (and it was over 40 years ago) was that the only black teenagers they saw were ones on television, and in those days, that was mighty few.
Interestingly, the male teacher of this music class was black, who was likely the only one, and therefore one more than there was at the time at Binghamton Central HS.
We sat and talked and answered questions, and the session seemingly did what it was intended to do, i.e., to let the Vestal kids get to know us as people. This was neither the first nor the last time my sister and I were involved in such an ambassadorship.
What was most interesting to me, though, is that they had put out an album of music, pressed onto vinyl. It was mostly classical and public domain folk tunes. The cover, though, was blank. they gave us each a copy and I remember coloring it with a bunch of geometric designs. And while I’m not sure I still have my copy, my sister definitely has hers.
One of the songs on the album was Hallelujah from Christ on the Mount of Olives by Beethoven, and it was amazingly competent for 12- and 13-year-olds. I thought of that today because it’s one of the songs we are performing for Easter this morning.