Your ensemble performed last night at Augustana College, and the humor, drama, and music were spell-binding!

My African Literature class was there, and the words of Zora Neale Hurston struck a chord that enriched our understanding of (and emotional connection to) her works and her life. For years I have required students to each week watch one hour (outside of class) of the documentary series “Eyes On the Prize” and then write a personal and “emotional” response (as opposed to intellectual/historical analysis). Never has my own response been as intense as when Fannie Lou Hamer sang the old spiritual: Shinnerie Jackson’s voice is stunning, and so is her passion; everyone in the audience was profoundly stirred.

Thanks for all your work, and congratulations and thanks to your entire ensemble. You are, for me (and I am sure for countless others), a profound embodiment of the signature except from the Talmud printed below. You indeed have not “abandoned” the work toward justice, peace, and love… and all in the context of inspiring beauty and passion.

— Paul Olsen, Augustana College (IL)

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief,
Do justly now;
Love mercy now;
Walk humbly now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
But neither are you free to abandon it.
— The Talmud