The title of our special Black History Month program was “Let’s Try Love: African American History through the Performing Arts”. And as Watoto Academy founder Donald O’Conner explained “it’s all about the journey!” DIHS partnered with Bishop England High School for a truly special evening that began with O’Conner’s presentation and Q&A, a brief social gathering and then a performance of This Joint is Jumpin’ by the Watoto group based at Meeting Street Academy.
It was a special evening where O’Conner gave a short presentation on how Watoto came to be…and how it ended up in Charleston. O’Conner credited Meeting Street Academy’s Ben Navarro for setting the expectations. O’Conner says the ultimate goal is for each individual to achieve his/her own version of the American Dream! “My vision is America is us!”
Sharing the stage with O’Conner was Mylyr Earnest…a perfect illustration of the power of Watoto. She joined the original group in Memphis as a disadvantaged child. Watoto propelled her through high school and college. Mylyr recently moved to Charleston to rejoin O’Conner and the group as a performance coach! She wants to help others travel their own version of her journey!
Chris Frisby, former DIHS President and currently Bishop England’s Dean of Student Success and Engagement moderated the Q&A after O’Conner’s presentation. We then adjourned for some refreshments prior to the Watoto performance.
Unfortunately we had some camera issues (more likely operator failure) and we didn’t get usable video of the Watoto performance. The good news is that DIHS Board member Tory Sullivan got some great shots from the audience. They give you a taste of the wonderful dynamic and energy the Watoto kids shared that night.
Again, apologies over not being able to show the video of the entire performance but here’s a quick excerpt….. https://www.facebook.com/reel/943796807377930
WATOTO is worth learning more about…here’s a bio of Donald O’Conner. Here’s more about the group, and here are some YouTube links to recent performances…….2024 MSS Watoto’s “Asante Sana” at Dock Street Theatre also Meeting Street Schools WatotoAcademy Performance