Beauty and Spitfire

Danny Stock

During the finale of the 75th Anniversary Speaker Series for the 2020–21 school year, attendees had the chance to hear from artists Sekou Andrews ’90 (poetic voice), Jon Bibbs (musician/educator), Cliff Coates (GDS HS history teacher), and Rashawana (spoken word artist) in a panel moderated by Adrian Loving (GDS HS art teacher). The conversation explored how music and poetry can play a part in effecting change in the world. 

We invite you to watch the recording from the evening.

From the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, to the fights for women’s and LGBTQ equality, music and poetry have been an integral part of every social justice movement. Inspiring us to act, artists have worked side by side with movement leaders throughout history to paint the picture and provide the soundtrack of our lived reality. 

The panelists discussed their inspirations, the intersections of truth-telling and beauty, and their personal relationships with advocacy through their art. Many thanks to Adrian for moderating and opening the conversation with an immersive visual arts teaser with music and words from luminaries throughout music and spoken word history, including samples from one of Sekou’s past projects. 

Each of the artists also took a turn towards the end of the evening to lay down a few bars—fiery spoken word from Cliff and Sekou, songs of protest and pride from Jon and Rashawna. It was a powerful closing—not only to hear from the artists about beauty and inspiration but to witness, even over Zoom, just a taste of what Sekou called “pure spitfire.”

Thank you to our panelists for bringing the audience along from their spark-catching roots through to the future plans for their art. We hope, years from now, a former student will look back on that call and say, ‘That’s when I witnessed the beauty and power of art. That’s when I caught the spark—when I decided that’s how I wanted to have an impact in the world.’

  • Arts