Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

Recognizing Heroism in Central New York

Our Teen Choir meets with students from William Nottingham and Jamesville-Dewitt High Schools who took a knee during the national anthem at their fall games this year.

We’re so excited about this upcoming Saturday, December 17th. On this day, we’ll be welcoming hundreds of Syracuse-area neighbors at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church downtown for our Winter Solstice Concert, “The Great Turning.” It’s also the day we’ll have the honor of presenting our beloved People’s Peace Award, created to honor “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things” in our community.

2016 has been a tumultuous year. One during which the need for the Black Lives Matter Movement has become even more glaringly evident. Many adults in our region recognize this, but luckily, so do many of our youth. In fact, two Syracuse-area high school teams made sure that their objection to the injustices happening throughout the nation was not kept private, but manifested publicly, when they took a knee during the national anthem at their games this past fall. We’re proud to honor these young athletes from William Nottingham and Jamesville-Dewitt High Schools for their act of resistance and for expressing in the best way they knew how that “business-as-usual” is not acceptable when so many people of color continue to suffer because of blatant racial injustice and unconscionable flaws in our current law enforcement system. Their decision to take a knee was a simple act, but it was full of courage. And while not everyone that witnessed it approved, the Syracuse Community Choir commends them for this demonstration of solidarity.

This past Sunday, our Teen Choir met with several of these young athletes, and the conversation was deep, honest, and compelling. We listened as they talked about the making the decision, about the action itself, and about its aftermath. Some game spectators responded with racist comments and even vandalism at one of the player’s homes. As a result, some of the athletes entered a new space, and faced a sort of of loneliness that they hadn’t experienced before. This would be burden on anyone, but it is especially moving that these young shoulders chose to bear it.

So, if you’re reading this, I invite you to join us this Saturday at our Winter Solstice Concert. It will be so much more than an annual event. It will be a celebration of the social justice efforts supported by our choir, as well as those led by neighbors like our young athlete brothers.

Our choir has been active for more than thirty years. During this time, we’ve sung at rallies, memorial services, and all sorts of community celebrations. We’ve collaborated with friends like The Paul Robeson Company, the Onondaga Nation, NOON (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation), Dream Freedom Revival, the Dance Theater of Syracuse and the Syracuse Vocal Ensemble. We’ve sung through the grief of our neighbors and through our grief when singers and fellow community members have passed away. Yet event during some of our most difficult moments, we’ve found the strength to sing for the earth and for all of life. And despite the increasingly disheartening political climate, we remain committed to putting forward the vision of a world where all people matter — one based on cooperation rather than competition, on connection rather than fear, on sharing rather than greed, on peace rather than war, on harmony rather than discord.

We would be honored to celebrate this proud heritage of peaceful activism and community pride with you. Help us send the world good thoughts and love-filled intentions as we recommit ourselves to the struggle of making it a better place. We need you to be part of the effort. Won’t you please join us?

For more information about the Winter Solstice Concert on Saturday, December 17th at 7pm— whether you’d like to attend or volunteer, please email us at SyracusePeaceChoir@Gmail.com.