I had the distinct pleasure of giving a brief presentation on Sept. 24, 2012 at the residence of Ambassador Lee A. Feinstein (far left) to American and Polish Fulbright Grantees. Also present are Maria Orłowska, Secretary of State, Member of the Fulbright Board of Directors, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and Jacek Nieckuła (next to her) – president of the Alumni Association. (photo by Piotr Król.)
I discussed my specialty, as a Fulbrighter, of providing a fuller understanding of American society through the performing arts, mainly African American culture and African American music. The significance and importance of this focus to Polish society as I stated, “Can be summed up in six words”: “An exemplum of hope and perseverance.” I demonstrated this by singing songs of hope such as the African American spirituals “Sooner Will Be Done” and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.” This was followed by a discussion of work songs and how they fostered a sense of perseverance among African slaves. I concluded by stating, “University students in Poland, in my experience, are fascinated with African American culture of the 1960s as they witness the fruition of hope and perseverance of African Americans during the Civil Rights Era.” Following this I sang the first verse of “A Change is Gonna Come” (1963/64, written and recorded by Sam Cooke).