In honor of the legendary jazz artist Charles Neville, our Executive Director’s late husband, the Charles Neville Legacy Project uses music created by communities of color to engage Springfield Public School high school students in History and English Language Arts. The program brings acclaimed jazz musicians of color into schools where most students are from families of color with low incomes. To ensure the students see their communities reflected in their regular curriculum, the musicians visit classrooms multiple times, using the historical music of communities of color to bring to life topics like the slave trade, the Jazz Age, the Great Migration, civil rights, and the Harlem Renaissance. Students learn how communities of color have and continue to use music to cultivate identity, resilience, and resistance amidst oppression. Students then do their own creative projects about their class topic with help from the musicians and Community Music School of Springfield teachers.
This program is a partnership between Blues to Green, Community Music School of Springfield, Focus Springfield Community TV, and participating schools. Planning and curriculum development have been underway since 2019. The pilot was to begin at Duggan Academy in fall 2020, but has been delayed by COVID-19.