R.E.A.L. Harmony Celebrates Black history month

R.E.A.L.+Harmony+Celebrates+Black+history+month

Isabella Athanasiou, Managing Editor

Farmingdale High School’s R.E.A.L. Harmony club was back and better than ever with their second Black History Month Program on February 15th. With the inability to hold the program last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, hopes for the event this year were filled with increased anticipation. The program took place in the auditorium at 6PM with students, staff, and families from the Farmingdale community present to be enlightened on Black history, while also being educated on the difficulties and oppression that African Americans did and still face within America. With that, the showcase took immense planning and the students involved put in tremendous time and effort when preparing and practicing for the performances and readings. They came together to ultimately produce an amazing showcase beloved by the audience and the virtual viewers.

What is R. E. A. L. Harmony? R.E.A.L. Harmony is a multicultural club that promotes and celebrates diversity in all of its beauty. The club’s goal is to promote such diversity and bring about multicultural awareness at Farmingdale High School with events, showcases, and fundraisers. The club was founded in March 2019 by students longing to make a positive change out of a negative situation. The club has grown since then and has continued to gain a varying array of members. The club has great diversity, and they held this showcase to educate and enlighten the Farmingdale community on Black History, Black issues and Black excellence in honor of Black History Month. 

When being asked what the planning for the event was like, club advisor and social worker Ms. Morales stated, “There is a process because we had to contact the people in the auditorium, people that were in charge of making sure that everything was in place like the sound crew, the video crew, the custodians and administrators just to figure out if this date worked with the calendar. There was also coordinating with the students, making sure that the acts are the way we wanted them to be, so it did take some time.” With the many hours of preparation, members of R.E.A.L. Harmony displayed inspiring devotion when it came to taking part in the event that had such significant meaning to them. Many rehearsals and meetings occurred after school prior to the showcase to make sure that the performances and acts were the best they could possibly be. In addition, a great amount of research was done in preparation for the tributes, readings, and slideshows presented to the in-person and virtual audience. The devotion and dedication of those involved with the production would lead to a remarkable and moving showcase. In the hour duration of the showcase, the audience was moved by a variety of performances that ranged from poetry readings to traditional African dances. There were also performances from the Steppin’ Dalers, who displayed an amazing routine with flawless choreography. After not being able to have a production last year, R.E.A.L. Harmony Council member and show performer Tania Gomez commented, “I definitely missed it, I did it my sophomore year and I liked it. I did a duet with Makai and honestly I was waiting to do it again, I think it was super fun and I like that this is something different than any other production that I have done. You can improvise, have more control over it, and have more fun with it. I feel like more friends want to join in on it and that brings awareness to it.” A dance performance to “Freedom” by Beyonce (featuring Kendrick Lamar) was also in the program, and was beloved by the audience. In addition to the dance performances, there were also vocal performances, with Jaxon Rivera singing “Blackbird” by the Beatles accompanied by Grace Lazicky on guitar and Tania Gomez singing “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo. Performer Jaxon Rivera and poetry author Juliet Hutchinson voice the importance of these performances within the showcase: “It is a very special event, and we wish it could have been brought to life sooner because it is really important and contains topics that need to be discussed and celebrated. It helps uphold the Black community to the standards that it has always deserved. Black people are important, Black lives matter, and Black lives are our lives.” These moving words are ones with such importance, and ultimately fueled the desire to bring about the best show possible. The aura of the auditorium courtesy of these performers was something to remember, as the audience was focused on the amazing acts before them.

The production also contained readings of poetry, and some self-written poetry written by Amaya Johnson and Juliet Hutchinson titled “To the Non-believers.” Inspired by the Black Lives Matter protest that corresponded with Civil Rights protests in the 1950s, the two authors were inspired to speak their mind through the art of poetry. Also inspired to speak her mind through poetry was Tatiana Velazquez, who wrote a poem for the event titled “What Does History Mean?” and “Black Lives.” These talented poets used their ability to write and created a clear and powerful message to be projected and to be heard. Amongst the poetry readings and performances was a well-researched presentation created and presented by Sylvie Axis and Faith Williams, who were inspired to honor the victims of police brutality and systematic racism. In doing so, they called for 35 seconds of silence to remember the 35 victims they honored in their presentation. When talking about their presentation, Faith Williams goes on to say that they hope their presentation “speaks volume and shows people why we say Black Lives Matter.” Sylvie Axis also spoke on the matter, stating, “I hope that everyone understands that Black is beautiful and that everyone can hear the message throughout tonight.” This presentation, as well as the poetry presented throughout the production, helped communicate the R.E.A.L. Harmony club’s greater meaning and purpose.

To end the showcase was an outstanding vocal performance from Tania Gomez, as she sang “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo. This final performance exhibited just Tania Gomez at first, but further into the song, the curtains opened to reveal all of those who had participated in the R.E.A.L. Harmony’s second Black History Month showcase. As the curtain slowly revealed those behind Tania, members would stand up in groups on different beats with their fists raised, creating a powerful image. With that, the 2022 Black History Month showcase was completed and had made a memorable impact on those in the audience and those watching virtually. The R.E.A.L. Harmony club’s amazing production and members goes to show the impact that this club has on the people in it, as well as those who witness the events. In the words of Makai Jones, one of the hosts for the event, “Black people in the school are like a minority group and I feel like we don’t get recognized for a lot of things. It is just nice to have a club that is centered around this and I can play my part, a huge part in making it known that we’re here, this is us, hear us, see us, this is our culture.” The R.E.A.L. Harmony club’s 2022 Black History Month showcase was one for the books, an inspiring production composed by inspiring people.