In celebration of the beginning of Black History month, Harpeth Hall welcomed Eric Dozier to campus for an inspiring presentation on February 6. Dozier is the Director of Equity and Campus Culture at the Episcopal School of Nashville and describes himself on his website ericdozier.com as a gospel music educator, cultural activist, musician, and father.
"When we sing we announce our existence."
Dozier shared this quote by Bernice Johnson Reagan to explain how the African American slave population of the United States used music to tell their stories. Dozier sang several gospel spirituals including "Motherless Child" and "Deep River," and he led the audience singing "This Little Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
Dozier discussed the roots of protest music, including artists like Josh White, Woody Guthrie and Bessie Smith; and shared the history of the first around-the-world tour in 1871 by the Fisk Jubilee Singers from Fisk University which helped fund Fisk's mission of educating freed slaves after the Civil War - and also put Nashville on the map as a global music center and earned the name "Music City."
According to Dozier's website, his ultimate goal is for his musical presentations is to inspire cultural change and unity for all people and to encourage communities to hold open discussions about race relations, using art as the common ground.
"We need to understand that standing up for racial injustice is not a black thing. The struggle against injustice has always been multi-racial and multi-cultural," said Dozier.