Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 4, 2008 · Page 29
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 29

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008
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Page 29
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By JONATHAN TAKIFF takiffjphillynews.com 215-854-5960 FOR TODAY'S schoolchildren, how would the ascent of Barack Obama to the presidency really resonate? Obviously, everyone would mark this as a most historic occasion, the first time a man of color had achieved the highest leadership post in the land. But would young people be able to put this landmark into true, historic context and cause for celebration, contemplating the depths of discrimination and the many battles for civil rights that were waged for this day of justice and equality to finally prevail? In Philadelphia, the answer is, "Yes, we can, can, yes we can," thanks to "Get It From the Drums," a unique, multi-media book and CD package put together by local author Wynne Alexander. Used in about 60 Philadelphia public junior high and high schools, the package makes it a mission to "Wake Up Everybody" to the history and growth of the civil-rights movement and such other grass-roots activist causes as feminism, environmental-ism and the anti-war movement. And it does so, intriguingly by connecting the causes to protest soul, rock and folk music. More specifically, to enlightening songs from artists like Marvin Gaye ("What's Going On"), Janis Ian ("Society's Child"), Nina Simone ("Mississippi Goddamn") and James Brown ("Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud") that rallied the downtrodden and rattled the establishment. "So many students find the history of the civil-rights movement to be 'old-head stories,' " noted Dennis Creedon, chief of the School District of Philadelphia's Office of Creative and Performing Arts, who commissioned Alexander to write and package the mixed-media project. "But when you contextualize the movement through the music of the times much of which they've never heard it brings the curriculum to life. They realize these were real struggles with real people who gave their lives to gain their civil rights." The book and disc are used, said Creedon, "in eighth-grade social-studies classes, in high-school American history classes as part of constitutional-rights discussions and also in music-composition classes." Wading in Starting with its title and cover art, the book reminds us that music has been used as a positive force for protest and empowerment since the Revolutionary days that created these United States, when rebel Colonists See ALEXANDER Page 34 Wynne Alexander, a longtime staffer at WDAS radio, used music to help teach the history of civil rights and other movements. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2008 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS PAGE 29 F

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