BHM: Educating local students on African-American culture through music

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Members from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, participated in a Black History Month assembly at Altus High School (AHS) to help spread awareness and educate students about African-American heritage and its impact on music, Feb. 15, 2022.

Desiree Hartman, 97th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, gave the presentation at the assembly.

“I really enjoy speaking to young people,” said Hartman. “I enjoyed the fact that they liked all the music, that they could relate to some of it and they were open to learning about it. I always say music brings everybody together, so it was a great experience for me.”

Hartman’s presentation included the history behind African-Americans’ influence on music dating back to the 1920s and included popular hip-hop and rap from today.

For example, some songs from the 1950s included beats and sounds that can still be heard in today’s hip-hop and rap.

“I found it wasn't just that I didn't know the music before the assembly but it brought back old memories of why I loved that kind of music,” said Trinity McDole, Altus High School choir student. “It brought back all the good feelings and good memories that come with it.”

The AHS choir sang “Jesus Lord Take My Hand” by Jim Reeves, a song that pays tribute to the history of African-American culture and relates to Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“When singing, it was nice getting everybody to actually quiet down and listen, and they were very engaged with the music,” said McDole.

Hartman explained she wanted to provide an engaging presentation that would still educate the students, so she chose music as a medium.

“It is important to do things like this because I think sometimes we go to the old standards and the common African-American stories,” said Hartman. “I want them to know there is so much more to us. We're so diverse in other ways, whether it's food, clothing, or music.”