Phoenix Muskogee news
Sadler celebrates with history, music

Ron Myers
Rev. Myers, the national chairman of the Juneteenth
celebration, plays jazz music for students at Sadler Arts Academy.
(photo by Jennifer Lyles)

By Keith Purtell
February 13, 2009
Muskogee Phoenix News

(Muskogee, Oklahoma) - The swinging sounds of jazz music set the tone for a historical presentation Thursday at Sadler Arts Academy. The Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr. alternated between questions and answers with students and performing on the piano, trumpet and flugelhorn.

Two of the students said afterward that they were very impressed by the celebration of the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Juneteenth, the annual celebration of June 19, 1865.

Eighth-grader Brianna Brown, 13, said she was personally moved by the music, which featured the Muskogee High School Jazz Band, the Sadler Recorder Jazz Band, and Muskogee musicians Jermaine Mondaine, Ed Warren and James Foster.

“The most interesting to me was all the playing of the instruments,” she said. “I play in band, and it inspired me to play better than I do now. I also didn’t know that June is national Black Music Month.”

Seventh-grader Justice Baughman, 12, said the music set a framework for Myers’ presentation.

“I liked the fact that he tied the music into what we learned about Juneteenth,” he said. “I didn’t know Juneteenth was the permanent end of slavery.”

Between songs, Myers told the history of Juneteenth by asking questions of students in the audience and awarding them with colorful Juneteenth stickers.

Some of the highlights were:

• Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863.

• Two years later, Union General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to tell the last remaining group of slaves that they had been freed. The date was June 19, 1865, which came to be known as Juneteenth.

• Jazz music was born out of the African-American experience in the United States.

• Although July 4, 1776 is known as Independence Day, freedom didn’t arrive for African-Americans until 88 years later on Juneteenth.

“We have two independence days,” Myers said.

Myers and a representative of the Oklahoma Juneteenth Historical Foundation presented Superintendent Mike Garde and Sadler Principal Maudye Winget with two large Juneteenth historical plaques.

He also gave Winget a copy of a Juneteenth history book, the first of many to be placed in school libraries all around the country.

Then it was time for another song, with all the students spontaneously clapping in time to the catchy beat.

As a final piece of historical education, Myers told the audience about Jay McShann, a prominent jazz musician who came from Muskogee.

Reach Keith Purtell at 918-684-2925 or Click Here to Send Email


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