Parents of Daughters of Color: Black History Celebration

MARCH 10, 2021

On the evening of February 23, the Nightingale community came together for the inaugural Black History Celebration sponsored by the Nightingale Parents of Daughters of Color (PODOC). This special event featured a moving compilation of music, dance, poetry, and spoken word.

The master of ceremonies was Broadway star Angela Robinson whose engaging presence guided the audience from performance to performance. Current student Nisa W. ’23 kicked off the evening with her recitation of her original poem entitled “Reveal,” which begins, “I’ve always been told to smile through the pain. And if you’ve ever asked me to tell you my story, I couldn’t because I’d be smiling through it.”

Throughout the celebration, the audience enjoyed exceptional pre-recorded performances by Broadway performers LaTrisa Harper, Daniel J. Watts, and Norm Lewis. Harper performed Sam Cooke’s masterpiece, “A Change is Gonna Come;” Watts shared a spoken word piece inspired by the great Muhammad Ali; and Lewis brought the house down with his rendition of “Home” from The Wiz written by Diana Ross. The Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater also graced the virtual stage with two stunning pre-recorded performances. A separate musical highlight included a recorded performance of “Lift Eve’ry Voice and Sing” featuring the voices of Francesca Harper ’87 P’29 and Nightingale students with musical arrangements by Shelton Becton.

A stand-out moment of the evening came from our very own Nightingale students. Prior to the celebration, students who identified as Black, African American, of the African Diaspora, and multi-ethnic girls of color whose parents are of African descent were invited to share their voices with the Nightingale community. Informed by their various experiences, histories, and cultures, students in Classes K-XII responded to the following prompt with pride, honesty, love, and calls to action: “To celebrate Black history at this moment in time means…” Their responses included: To celebrate Black History Month at this moment in time means I can see all of my possibilities, To celebrate Black History Month in this moment means to me that Black skin is beautiful, and To celebrate Black History Month at this moment in time means that you can be a part of the change too.

In addition to curating the many performances of the evening, PODOC also honored Nightingale alumna, current parent, and board member Francesca Harper ’87 P’29. PODOC shared, “We thank you, Francesca Harper, for your continued dedication as one of Nightingale’s daughters. Your commitment to humanity and diversity through artistic expression inspires our daughters to live their dreams within the blue doors and beyond.” Francesca joined the Nightingale community in the 6th grade and went on to become a professional dancer, choreographer, director, award-winning Broadway performer, filmmaker, Presidential Scholar, television producer, and activist.

Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson helped to close out the celebration with a live reading from her celebrated memoir, Negroland. She shared a passage from the ending, in which she reflects on the many influences that shaped her life.

Nightingale is grateful to the PODOC Committee Chairs for this wonderful celebration. Thank you to Melissa Almontero P’22 P’25, Merle Anselm P’26 P’29, Debra Alleyne-James P’22, Francesca Harper ‘87 P’29, Kristina Kalaw Joyas P’30, Vanessa Lindley P’27 P’29 P’30, and Alain Massena P’31 P’33.

About Parents of Daughter of Color

Parents of Daughters of Color is committed to creating a safe and open space for all parents who identify as having daughters of color while building community fellowship, sharing common experiences, and developing strategies to support their daughters along their social, emotional, and academic journeys.