SBVC Music Department Hosts Civil Rights Concert & Celebration
It’s hard not to think of civil rights today without understanding where it all began.
Matie Manning Scully, Chair of Performing Arts at San Bernardino Valley College, has been on a mission to bring civil rights awareness to students by looking back to the roots of the movement.
Through the department’s programming, Scully has set out to weave complex historical issues into the arts, especially for younger students who may not realize just how much they have in common with the Black experience.
Often, she speaks of her own epiphany 15 years ago when she overheard a group of students saying they hadn’t planned to attend a Black History event because they were not African American. It prompted her outreach all the more to help students understand the origins of the rights that they enjoy today.
Her programming has opened up new and creative ways for students to experience the early movement that has led to great breakthroughs in constitutional rights.
“I think, and have thought for a long time, SBVC is the crown jewel of San Bernardino and I don’t think we are sufficiently appreciated by the community because they don’t know the miracles we pull off’ every day on that campus with our students!” Ms. Scully said.
She said the performances are helping students represent their world, and the hardships that they face on a daily basis. Despite the limitations, she said they are succeeding because of San Bernardino Valley College and its dedicated staff.
“We have been working many, many years on trying to get our community aware of what’s available to them, trying to give them a voice as to what’s going on in their community, and to express the kinds of problems that they suffer with,” said Scully, director of the Black History Month Concert & Civil Rights Celebration.
Among several notable events on campus during Black History Month, the college also held film screenings and dialogue of “Bleaching Black Culture” and “Light Girls.” Choreographer and SBVC adjunct professor Maura Townsend of Los Angeles-based Project21Dance, presented “Hope through the Struggle,” featuring a full lineup of local talent, singers, and dancers. Radio and TV personality, Georgetown University sociology professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, addressed issues of race, racism, and race relations in the United States.
Rebecca Ward, an assistant to Matie Scully, said Ms. Scully often shares her story about her friend in the sixties who couldn’t go inside the campus library because she was in a wheelchair.
“Students were like, couldn’t she just use the ramp? She explained that in the 60’s, there was no ramp. Because of Black History and people standing up, they were able to have these rights,” Ward said.
The concert, the first of its kind at San Bernardino Valley College packed the house, and was highly diverse. Along with tremendous vocals, the concert also included spoken word by SBVC sociology professor Anthony Blacksher, and dance choreographed by SBVC adjunct professor Maura Townsend and guest choreographer Aldrin Barraquio.
“It is when we celebrate Black History Month that we have the moment to reflect on the numerous wrongs perpetrated against an entire race of Americans and the resulting civil rights that have enriched all our lives,” said Scully.