Samuel Coleridge-Taylor suppressed his anger while he shook the president’s hand. He couldn’t ignore the Black servants standing at attention behind them. The laughter and dancing in the room were in honor of him – but his people were still oppressed and suffering.
Even while he received accolades, he couldn’t forget that his people were second-class citizens.
As a boy, his own father had returned to Africa, abandoning him – he’d been shunned from practicing medicine in England. Samuel had spent his life determining his own destiny through the pursuit of music. But was it enough?
He’d set the poems of his friend, legendary poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, to music. He infused African influences into his compositions. But how could he show his people his heart?
He took his place in front of the musicians and raised his conductor’s bow.
These pieces were for ALL Black people suffering from discrimination in America and abroad! He stabbed the air with his bow, sending Black people a message of power and resilience.
This night – this composition – was for them. Did the U.S. President suspect anything?
Who cares? Taylor, an ardent advocate for his people, became a symbol for Black people worldwide to continue seeking excellence and fighting racism in all its forms.
Like Taylor, we too can use our gifts to uplift and impact our people around the world.